A while back we posted about a neat iPhone App for New York City dwellers to help identify street trees. Well, now something equally — no, more — exciting has come to our fine city by the bay.
The project, called the Urban Forest Map, is a collaboration between the California Department of Forestry and local non-profit group Friends of the Urban Forest. The open-source technology allows citizen foresters to add or edit trees along San Francisco streets, creating a “tree profile page” for each tree they log (haha, “log” — get it? So ironic!).
Each tree profile has fields for quite a bit of information (you can enter as much as you have — plenty of these profiles are incomplete) including scientific name, common name, trunk diameter and height, pictures, date planted, and much more. You can scroll through the Google Map clicking on different trees in your neighborhood to learn more about them, as well as adding or editing information where appropriate. Turns out the trees across the street from my house are cherry plums.
This is such a fantastic project, and I hope other cities are interested in taking on something similar. The data that will be collected and potentially mined from an effort like this is vast, and hopefully will prove to be an incredible tool for determining the ecological impact of the urban forest and making the case for larger volumes of high quality soil. I definitely want to keep an eye on this project. Meanwhile, folks in San Francisco — try using this software and report back to us on your experiences!