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Denton partners with tech company to create digital tree inventory

A sign for the Denia Recreation Center in Denton surrounded by trees
John Anderson
The digital inventory will give the city an exact number of trees, along with their genus, health status and economic value.

Denton is in the process of creating a digital inventory of its trees.

It’s one of the first cities in the United States to partner with technology company Greehill, which uses lidar lasers to scan trees in parks, on city properties and near roads.

Once the data has been collected, artificial intelligence will process the data and create a digital clone of every tree.

City Urban Forester Haywood Morgan Jr. is overseeing the creation of the digital inventory and said the scanning is faster and more accurate than traditional methods.

“We're able to do an inventory in a fraction of the time that it would take to do a regular manual, what I like to say, boots-on-the-ground tree inventory,” he said. “One person would go up and take a measurement of the tree and the other person's taking notes and they would manually assess the tree for its height, its health conditions.”

Morgan said he doesn’t currently know how many trees Denton has in its parks, but the city has an estimated 24,000 trees near roads.

The data will provide the city with that exact number, which Morgan said will make it easier to care for Dentons trees when it comes to projecting budgets, assigning areas to be pruned and creating work schedules.

Greehill’s technology will identify trees on the genus level and provide health status, structural analysis ecological benefits and economic value.

City of Denton
A screenshot from a video demonstrating the use of Greehill's scanning technology.

The inventory will also allow the city to easily manage the information on every individual tree.

“If someone calls or someone says ‘Oh, the trees need to be pruned here,’ or ‘when was the last time,’ we'll be able to answer those questions without having to dig through paper files, or even Excel spreadsheets,” Morgan said. “We can go to that individual tree and look at what was done and when it was done and who did the work.”

While the technology is relatively new for the United States, Greehill was founded in Budapest in 2017 and has locations in Berlin, Paris and Singapore.

Denton’s inventory will be complete by September. The city will have its trees scanned again in three years to see how much they have grown and predict future growth.