Estimating the leaf area of urban trees


Ecosystem service assessment tools, such as the i-Tree suite of tools, use leaf area of trees to quantify and value the ecosystem services that an urban forest delivers.

Research objectives 

The aim of this research is to determine leaf area of urban, deciduous open grown trees and to compare the outputs to international literature. To address this aim, the following objectives were devised:

  • Determine leaf area using using HemiView Canopy Analysis Software for three tree species commonly found in urban environments in the U.K.
  • For the sampled trees understand if there is a relationship between biometric variables and leaf area.
  • Compare the derived leaf area and allometric relationships to regression equations produced by Nowak (1996).


 This research began in 2014 and is currently ongoing.


Kieron Doick

Funders and partners

This work is funded by the Forestry Commission

Forestry Commission policy

Climate change represents a significant threat to urban infrastructure, environmental quality and the health of city dwellers. Green infrastructure is itself at risk through greater extremes in temperature fluctuation, consequent flourishing of tree pests and diseases, drought and perceived increased risk of subsidence leading to tree removal.

There is no clear system for determining the biophysical interactions, benefits, or managing potential trade-offs within a risk-benefit context, so as to optimally support the protection and sustainable regeneration of UK towns and cities. The Urban Trees and Greenspace in a Changing Climate Programme intends to develop such a system through consolidating and building upon existing work to provide the evidence base for urban trees, definition and communication of best practice guidance, and robust assessment, evaluation and dissemination tools so that the risks and benefits of urban tree placement can be more fully assessed by society, policy makers and planners.

The Programme also maintains the centre of excellence which FR has developed over several decades on land regeneration practices to establish and maintain urban greenspaces on former brownfield and contaminated sites.

Urban trees and greenspace in a changing climate