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Golf Course Sustainability: Benefits of tree inventory

Toso Bozic

Toso Bozic

Tree/Forestry Expert

Trees are part of any golf course. Some golf courses have just trees that were planted when the course was established, while many golf courses are part of a natural forest. These trees perform a variety of environmental functions such as providing wildlife habitat, reducing soil and water erosion, providing wind protection, increasing biodiversity and carbon sequestration, reducing heat effect and many more. The environmental benefits of trees are well known but many golf courses and country clubs really do not know what and how trees specifically contribute to environmental values. This is where benefits of tree inventory come in place to support and better understand the Golf Course Sustainability

Why would golf courses conduct tree inventory?

There are several good reasons for doing a tree inventory on your golf course. Tree inventory will provide a clear picture about the economic, social, and environmental values. Some benefits   of tree inventory are:

  • Increasing the overall golf course asset values. Trees are an asset to any golf course and country clubs, and the values are measured in thousands or millions of dollars. Unfortunately, many golf superintendents see trees as a liability but never as a real and valuable asset.
  • Reducing the cost of care and maintenance-  Tree inventory will reveal how many dead, diseased trees or hazardous trees there are on golf course property. Tree inventory will help to prioritize the maintenance schedule and cost.
  • Reducing potential liability in areas where hazardous trees pose a threat, or clogging irrigation systems or damaging pathway infrastructure.
  • Improving better planning – Tree inventory will guide and provide crucial information to the senior managers and board to streamline their planning activities and improve decision making processes. 
  • Providing public education and reducing negative perception -Tree inventory will help educate golfers and public about the benefits of a trees and forest in golf course to the society.
  • Identifying potential of forest fire risks in your golf course. Golf courses with a large amount of natural forest or surrounded by a large track of forest are under the threat of forest fires. Having proper inventory will help inform a decision maker about the potential forest fires and make appropriate decisions to reduce those risks.
  • Identifying potential pest/environmental risks on your golf course trees. Unfortunately, many courses are dominated by relatively a few tree species (mostly spruce, pine, ash, aspen, poplar, and elm).  Various insects and diseases can infest trees in the golf course potentially killing all trees, reducing the health, structural value, and sustainability of the trees and forest in the course.

What to collect during inventory?

The purpose of a tree inventory on the golf course is to obtain as much as possible information on tree species ID, age, diameter breast height (dbh), crown condition, hazard evaluation, potential for fire hazard, evaluate health and vigor, distribution, and purpose. Beside this basic information, additional things might be collected including site conditions, mapping of individual trees, percentage of surface roots, sun/shade angles, tree impact on turf, play, air movement and any infrastructure such as trails and buildings.

What are valuable results of tree inventory and report?

Once the tree inventory is completed, it will give golf course managers some valuable information to make an informed decision in regard to tree removal, pruning, tree planting, IPM, maintenance, risk mitigation and financial aspect of tree management. By using I-Tree Eco Tool  software golf course managers would be able to obtain information on many environmental benefits such as

  • Total number of trees, tree cover, most common species of trees, species diversity, percentage of trees less than 6″ (15.2 cm) diameter, number of dead trees, tree crown health, etc.
  • Value of Carbon Storage in metric tons/year and dollars (e.g., 355.1 metric tons /per year – $5,330)
  • Total carbon stored and net carbon annually sequestered by the tree and forest in metric tons/year and dollars.
  • Total Oxygen Production and air pollution removal in metric tons/year
  • Avoided Runoff in cubic meters/year and dollar values. E.g., 1500.5 cubic meters/year ($3,160 /year)
  • Total structural values of tree e.g., $4.45 million
  • Potential impact of infestations by pests, such as Mountain pine beetle, spruce beetle. emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and Dutch elm disease.


Golf courses may be perceived as not environmentally sustainable facilities due to intensive turf management. Environmental benefits of trees are often forgotten and not counted in overall sustainability of golf course industry. Conducting tree inventory will provide insightful information  about tree care, maintenance, and management. It will also provide information on a quantifiable and measurable environmental benefit of trees to golf course, industry, and society

How can we help?

Yard Whispers or our parent company ATTS Group  professional and experienced Tree Expert and ISA Certified Arborist are offering a full range of consulting and advisory services to Golf Course industry to meet its specific needs

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