Urban foresters to hold Great Tree Count

Public invited to participate in San Francisco tree census

September 7, 2012 — Friends of the Urban Forest will enlist the public to participate in the Great Tree Count, from September 30 to October 7, to inventory San Francisco’s trees in the Urban Forest Map (www.urbanforestmap.org).  The week-long tree census will kick off with an event on Sunday, September 30 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Washington Square at Columbus Avenue and Union Street in the North Beach neighborhood.

The information entered in the Urban Forest Map can be used by urban foresters and city planners to better manage trees in specific areas, track and combat tree pests and diseases, plan future tree plantings, and maximize the benefits provided by this “green infrastructure.”  Climatologists can use the data to better understand the effects of urban forests on climates, and students can use it to learn about the role trees play in the urban ecosystem.

“The Great Tree Count is an easy way for anyone to become a community forester,” said Kelaine Vargas, the LEED-certified urban ecologist who is managing the project.  “Our urban forest thrives, and provides us with many benefits, thanks to this kind of community involvement.”

The Urban Forest Map is an online tool developed in cooperation with Friends of the Urban Forest and the City of San Francisco and sponsored by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Anyone with a web browser, whether on a mobile device, laptop or desktop computer, can use the map to enter or access information about specific trees, such as their location, species, size, and health.  The developers expect to launch an iPhone app for the Urban Forest Map soon.

At the September 30 kickoff event, Vargas and staff members from Friends of the Urban Forest will show members of the public how to collect simple data about trees and enter it in the Urban Forest Map.  Participants will catalogue all the trees in the park, and will be asked to continue to collect and enter data about trees elsewhere in San Francisco throughout the week-long campaign.

More information about the Great Tree Count is available online here.

The Urban Forest Map is built with open-source software, and leverages the growing power of geographic information systems (commonly known as GIS tools).  Technologists can “layer” the tree data with other kinds of geographic data to illuminate or reveal aspects of an area or region that might otherwise be overlooked.  The software is already in use in Sacramento (where another Great Tree Count will occur during the same week), San Diego and Philadelphia.

About Friends of the Urban Forest

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) helps individuals and neighborhood groups to plant and care for street trees and sidewalk gardens in San Francisco.  Since 1981, FUF has planted more than 46,000 trees (more than all the trees in Golden Gate Park) to reduce the city’s tree shortage.  By greening the streets of San Francisco, FUF supports the health and livability of the urban environment.

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