Tree Inventory & Map Project based learning
Trees play many valuable roles in our lives. They sequester carbon, produce oxygen, fix nitrogen and distill water in controlling pollution. Trees play a roll in cleaning the air. Properly located trees reduce the heating and cooling costs of buildings, as well as, contributing to more comfortable outdoor spaces. Trees reduce soil erosion and provide important habitat and food sources for animals including mammals like people. Dead trees provide hunting perches for raptors and other birds. They can provide vital housing for many species of animals including woodpeckers, bluebirds and opossums. Trees add to the value of property. They serve as landmarks and historic reminders (General Sherman & Liberty Tree). They even play a part in some cultural celebrations. USDA Community Tree Guide
Your community has decided to inventory all the trees. The goal is to create a map and a database with all the information collected for each tree. This information will be used to make decisions regarding tree maintenance, species of trees to plant and locations that would benefit from planting trees. Your class will be participating by collecting data.
Check out - Virginia Tech Tree Inventory | A Week in the Life of the NatureMapping Program | Conducting a Community Tree Inventory
1. Select an area to inventory. This could be your school's campus, a local public park or a neighborhood.
If your are working in a neighborhood, you can do measurements of street trees. Be sure to respect property rights. Do not enter private property without permission.
2. Make a rough map of the area that includes structures, streets and waterways. If there is a locally available map of your community, you could use it. (Local Chambers of Commerce, visitors agency or realtors often have free, local maps.)
3. Review how to make tree measurements. Be consistent about the height you use for the circumference.
Follow the national standard height 4.5 feet above ground.
4. Data to consider collecting:
(make a paper form or a spreadsheet/database with the data to be collected so that each tree is on a separate form or ss row or db record.)
Location - use GPS if possible, use street address if it is not.
Species - scientific name & common name in a second field/cell
Native or nonnative tree
Evergreen or deciduous
Size - trunk girth (circumference) 4.5 feet above ground - American Forests Measuring Guide
Type of leaf
Leaf color | Leaf margin
Shape of tree
Fruit - fruit tree 101
Estimated size of mature tree - you will need to research this
Condition of tree
Digital photo of the tree - You could have the goal to take one in each season to present a complete picture.
Impact on area it is growing. Example - adds shade to walkway, fruits or nuts are messy or hazardous, fruits or nuts provide free/cheap food source, planted close to utility wires or structures, flowers enhance downtown shopping area in spring, exacerbates allergies for some people, stabilizes slope, nationally, state or regionally significant species.
Divide the site into sub areas with two or 3 people working in each sub area.
Assemble your tools. What will you need?
Collect the data. How will you avoid counting trees more than once?
Publish your findings.
Check out Tree inventory leads to a plan to plant 100,000 trees where they are needed. Graphic of inventory results.
What is the diversity of the tree species?
What percentage are native trees to your region?
Identify an area that would benefit from tree planting.
Haverford Arboretum - tree tour | UW Campus Tree Tour
Penn State Maps Elm trees on campus
Arbor Day site tree data | Urban & Community Forestry | Tree Facts | PLANTS - USDA website
TreeVitalize project | From the Woods - Community Forests | Students map Trees
National Tree Benefit Calculator | Urban Sprawl
Green Maps Around the World | Mapping out a new world order CNN
National Register of Big Trees | i-Tree - public domain (free) tree mapping software
GIS is computer software that links geographic information (where things are) with descriptive information (what things are like) Info for teachers. GIS for School - ESRI
Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, commonly referred to as GRASS GIS, is a Geographic Information System (GIS) used for data management, image processing, graphics production, spatial modeling, and visualization of many types of data. It is Free Software/Open Source released under GNU General Public License (GPL). GRASS is official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.
On this website: GIS - Using and Understanding | About Trees | Maple Tree and Sugar Bush | Trees of fencerows
Trees & plants of wetlands | Tree Comparison/Contrast Project based on My Side of the Mountain
Plants and People
Gap Analysis is a scientific means for assessing habitats & if native animal & plant species are being protected.
Critter Quest PA explore natural diversity using gis mapping
Pathfinder Science - "hands-on, minds-on" activities (student scientists not just science students)
Capturing Carbon - Nova Science Now online video Jul. 2008
An eighth-grader's science fair project prompts her scientist father to develop a new way to pull excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Environmental Scientists Find Tree Combo For Carbon Sequestration
Tales from Urban Forest | Leaf Classification
Mapping: The United States of Art - Explore examples of public art in this interactive Google map
Read how these scientists estimated there were 3 trillion trees on our planet. Try it. count how many kids are in your classroom. How many classrooms are there in your school? Estimate how many students attend your school. Find out - how close you are to the actual count.
" I never knew the value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive my company.
What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown. " Thomas Jefferson
I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
- Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933
"When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope." - Prof Wangari Maathai
"The unnecessary felling of a tree, perhaps the growth of centuries, seems to me a crime little short of murder." Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson adage, " To old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for posterity."
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All trademarks, copyright and logos belong to their respective owners.
Cynthia J. O'Hora dedicated to honor Dr. Wangari Maathai
Released for use by nonprofit organizations posted
5/2008, utd 8/2021