Today, California. Tomorrow, the World The Future of the Urban Tree Key

Today we welcome back regular blog contributor Ellyn Shea, talking more about my favorite tool when walking around the streets of San Francisco. -LM 

Back in July, I related the history of an educational website called the Urban Tree Key that helps urban citizens without botanical training identify trees in their community.

As promised, here is a sneak preview of the exciting new changes coming up in the spring of 2013.

1. More trees! The current Urban Tree Key (UTK) has about 65 trees, most of them common to San Francisco. Thanks to additional funding from the State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the key will contain 250 of the most common urban trees in the state of California, including some natives.

2. New professional input. Botany professor Matt Ritter from Cal Poly brings his expertise and photography collection to the project. Ritter is the author of
A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us, which contains photos and descriptions of the most common 150 trees in California. These trees – and more – will be added to the key.

3. An app for that. We’ll be able to use the key with our smartphones – right in front of the tree we are trying to identify. Won’t that make it much easier than trying to take a picture or clip a sample to bring back to the computer!

4. Expandability. The new UTK is being designed so new trees can be more easily added, with the potential for national – or dare we hope, international – usability. Just add funding!

The Urban Tree Key will still be located at www.urbantreekey.org, and also hosted on CalPoly’s website SelecTree (which has had an upgrade as well).

Interested in urban trees? Join the Great Tree Count , September 30 to October 7, 2012. San Franciscans can add to the Urban Forest Map, Sacramento residents use  GreenprintMaps. Add the tree in front of your house, your office, or favorite coffee shop. Recruit your local garden club, neighborhood group or Scout troop to help out.  Visit www.greattreecount.org for how-to’s. Don’t worry if you miss the Great Tree Count, these instructional videos will be up all year long, and starting next spring, the new Urban Tree Key will make i.d. even easier.

ArborismTo hear an interview with Kelaine Vargas, and a review of Matt Ritter’s new book, visit the Arborism blog.

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