Measuring Tree Diameter for Urban Tree Inventories
Diameter at breast height (DBH) is the diameter of the tree stem at 4½ feet aboveground. Measuring DBH of a tree for an urban forest inventory is easy when you have a diameter tape. A few points are important to keep in mind. First, a diameter tape (D-tape) is a breakable instrument. If you are not careful, the spring within the housing can break, resulting in the tape’s inability to recoil and becoming a tangled web of metal. Second, the metal strip can be sharp, so be careful when handling the tape. Third, MSU Extension recommends a 100-foot diameter tape with distance in tenths of inches. One side of the tape can measure distance, while the other side of the tape is calibrated to pi in order to measure diameter.
For more information, see Publication 2882 A Step-by-Step Guide to Taking Urban Forest Inventory Measurements.
Information Sheet 2007 (POD-01-16)
By Dr. Jason Gordon, Assistant Extension Professor, Forestry.
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