Editor: In response to “New Tree Study May Be on Horizon . . . Eventually” [Sun Gazette, March 24], two points should be made.
First, Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, director of University of Vermont’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory and an expert in tree-canopy analysis, concluded in a 2018 letter that the accuracy of the Arlington government’s 2016 study data was “too low to draw conclusions about changes in tree canopy.”
In addition, the 2011 tree-canopy assessment (performed by the University of Vermont) used a different dataset and methodology to perform its analysis than did the 2016 assessment (performed by Davey Tree). So any comparison of the two assessments would be apples to oranges.
Moreover, the purported “increase” in canopy to 41 percent in 2016 was within the assessment’s own margin of error. Being as generous as possible, the most that could be legitimately claimed is that Arlington’s canopy remained the same (no net gain/loss) over the 5-year span.
Whereas government entities may attempt to spin scientific information and statistics in order to paint a rosier picture than reality supports, this kind of behavior should be discouraged. Or at least corrected.
The fact that county staff refuses to acquire more current and accurate data (available for free or at low cost from the federal government) for analysis in order to update the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan calls into question the legitimacy of this entire effort.
How is it that a “plan update” that purports to serve as a roadmap for the future preservation and restoration of Arlington’s tree canopy can rely on outdated, less accurate data? Using outdated numbers to “update” a planning document makes no sense whatsoever.
Suzanne Smith Sundburg, Arlington