Urban Forest Map: Map it and they will grow
Urban Forest Map San Francisco
Urban Forest Map: Map it and they will grow

Today the Urban Forest Map non-profit project and web site launches. It’s quite fascinating for several reasons. First the goal of identifying and logging every tree across the hilly town, while entirely possible, smells of crazy-fun ambition—the type you only find in a free-thinking town like San Francisco.  Second it could potentially showcase—like other social projects before it such as Wikipedia—the power of us socially-connected, curious and helpful people.

Bored? Go map a tree!

Down thanks to health-care reform, or volcanic ash? Become a “citizen forester”!

The web site provides a search function for finding trees across the city. Further, the aforementioned intrepid can contribute by adding information on trees, and editing existing entries; again, much like other socially-powered data entry and sharing projects.

Although it starts in San Francisco, it’s expected to eventually roll out across other major cities across the U.S (New York is reportedly next).

According to the Wired article where I originally learned of the Urban Forest Map, it costs a city $3 to survey each tree.

Urban Forest Map Eco Impact
Useful information for planners: Yearly Eco Impact

This can add up quickly, causing major expense for local governments. So why not defray that cost using the old tried and true, power of the people approach?

Many other good reasons exist.

From the web site: “Along the way we’ll calculate the environmental benefits the trees are providing — how many gallons of stormwater they are helping to filter, how many pounds of air pollutants they are capturing, how many kilowatt-hours of energy they are conserving, and how many tons of carbon dioxide they are removing from the atmosphere. The information we gather will help urban foresters and city planners to better manage trees in specific areas, track and combat tree pests and diseases, and plan future tree plantings. Climatologists can use it to better understand the effects of urban forests on climates, and students and citizen scientists can use it to learn about the role trees play in the urban ecosystem.”

A launch party is scheduled on, of course, Earth Day; tomorrow Thursday, April 22 in San Francisco.

Go tie a ribbon!