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Jun. 24, 2011

In the Philadelphia area? Contribute to PhillyTreeMap!

by Darlene Cavalier

Click to enlarge images

This post was originally posted on ScienceForCitizens.net, a website that connects regular people to real science they can do.

Participating in PhillyTreeMap, one of the newest projects in the Science for Citizens Project Finder, is almost as simple as fetching the morning paper from the front “stoop,” as we say here in Philly.

This morning, I opened my front door, walked 10 feet to the nearest tree (pictured here), wrapped a measuring tape around its trunk, snapped this picture, and simply uploaded the picture and trunk width online. THAT’s how simple it was to help the City of Philadelphia take an inventory of trees.

In the process, not only did I learn we have Honey Locust trees lining our street, but also that these trees provide ecological benefits to my region and save money -- a total of $318,804 saved per year.

How? Reducing 554,597 pounds of the greenhouse gas CO2 saves $2,797 each year, conserving 3,928,345 gallons of water saves $38,890, conserving 184,521 kWh of energy saves $265,389, and reducing 4,677 pounds of air pollutants saves $11,726.

Here’s how this works and why it’s important according to the software developers at Azavea:

PhillyTreeMap is an open-source, web-based map database of trees in the greater 13-county, three-state Philadelphia region. The wiki-style database enables non-profits, government, volunteer organizations, and the general public to collaboratively create an accurate and informative inventory of the trees in their communities. The project was funded by a USDA Small Business Innovation Research Grant, and is in support of the City of Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation’s 30% tree canopy goal, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s “Plant One Million” campaign. As more trees are added to the database, we are able to use software from the US Department of Agriculture to calculate the environmental impact of the region’s urban forest. So get outside and add some trees!

About Darlene Cavalier

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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