San Francisco, CA (November 1, 2008)- The Urban Forest Map is a collaborative project led by Friends of the Urban Forest to map the location of every city tree and calculate its contribution to our urban ecosystem. The goal is to build a web-based inventory map of the urban forest using open-source technology, all while encouraging community participation and interest in the urban forest. The information generated will eventually be available for free to everyone to view and use.
The Urban Forest Map will offer the following:
* The ability to show the locations of trees in all inventories (the municipality’s, nonprofit’s, etc.) on one map while keeping the data separate (and safe).
* Community members will be able to enter data from their home computers on their own trees-in their backyards, schools, workplaces. This data will be kept separate from the “official” data.
* The ecosystem services and other benefits of the trees will be displayed to help city residents see just how green their city is!
* The Map will be based on open-source software and will be designed to be readily transferable to other municipalities.
* The Map will allow users to perform searches of the data. For example, you could ask the map to display all elm trees, all trees in a certain neighborhood, or all trees over 36 inches in DBH.
In San Francisco, the pilot city, official data will come from the databases of Friends of the Urban Forest and the City’s Bureau of Urban Forestry. Supplemental data will come from homeowners, residents, citizen foresters, students, Boy Scouts, etc. In other words, anyone with a computer can log in and enter information about a tree in front of their house, in their backyard, schoolyard, playground, etc. Particularly in smaller communities, mapping work could be done entirely by citizen foresters.
A beta version will be running by the beginning of 2010, and the project expects six months of testing after that to make sure it’s running smoothly. Once the pilot city is done, the software package will be made available to anyone who wants it. Since it’s based on open-source software, it will be free.
Probably one of the most practical uses of the map will be for communities pursuing large-scale tree planting projects. In New York City and Sacramento, for example, any one who plants a tree can register it through an online registration. However, the data is not map based, but rather just a long list of addresses. This makes planning for things like wildlife habitat, environmental justice, and good species distribution much harder. The map also provides a good opportunity for communities or entities pursuing greenhouse gas tree-planting projects.
In order to make the Urban Forest Map as widely useful as possible, they need your feedback on some of their ideas. They promise that the survey should only take five minutes of your time. Survey data will be kept anonymous, and those who enter their contact information will receive updates on the project.
Urban Forest Mapping Project Survey
KQED- Urban Forest Mapping Project
Wired Magazine- Urban Forest Mapping Project