A tree inventory is a management tool used to collect attributes of a population of trees in a specific location. Data is collected to accomplish a goal, such as determining maintenance needs, risk assessment, education, etc. These days, inventories are typically collected utilizing GPS/GIS and can be easily accessed and shared on the web. Homeowners associations should be interested in conduction tree inventories for many reasons, including the following:
Knowing the maintenance needs of the trees in your association can help plan for work to be done over several years. For example, a plan to prune the trees in the association would be difficult to create if the pruning needs of every tree are not known. Knowing pruning needs helps prioritize which trees to prune first, and at what cost, so that an HOA can budget for maintenance accordingly.
Informing residents of the types of trees and associated benefits throughout an Association can help improve appreciation for the natural environment. After all, one will likely find it hard to care about a resource they don't even know exists. An HOA can make their tree inventory available to residents so they can see the benefits and needs of individual trees. Residents can access some types of inventories from mobile devices so they can learn about individual trees as they walk their neighborhood.
Environmentally aware individuals may be attracted to an HOA if they see that management cares for natural assets such as trees. Caring for trees can also help lead to certification through programs such as LEED and SITES. These are third party verification services that have been shown to improve sale and rental prices for residential and commercial properties. Content produced as part of an inventory can often be utilized by an HOA in marketing materials.
4. Risk Assessment
While trees provide many benefits, they can also present safety hazards if in poor condition. An inventory will identify hazards and prioritize removal or other mitigation options to reduce the potential for tree or limb failure. Failure to assess and remove tree risks can open up an HOA or property owner to legal action if a tree failure leads to property damage or personal injury.
5. Insurance/Value Appraisal
If a tree is illegally removed through negligence, accident or weather the HOA can often attempt to recoup the value of the lost tree through insurance or legal means. However, appraised value is difficult to determine after a tree has been removed unless tree accurate details have been kept. That is why is important to know at least the size, species and condition of every tree of value on a property. All of this data can easily be collected in an inventory.