Now in beta, The Urban Forest Map is “a collaboration of government, nonprofits, businesses and you to map every tree in San Francisco,” in the project’s own words. Starting with a database from public records, the project aims to communicate the value of the urban forest and engage communities in creating greener, more livable urban environments. Toward that end, citizen participants can not only search for particular types of trees in the San Francisco area, they can also add new ones that haven’t yet been mapped by simply putting a dot on the map where they’re located and then providing as much information about them as they can, including photos and factors such as species, size and trunk diameter. Citizens can verify the facts about the trees near them as well, updating as necessary to help track changes as the urban forest grows. The information added to the Urban Forest Map will be used by urban forest managers, landscape architects and planners to estimate future growth and planting opportunities, improve wildlife habitat, maximize ecosystem services, and grow a strong and healthy urban forest.
Perhaps even more interesting, however, is that for each and every tree, the Urban Forest Map taps a US Forest Service model to calculate the environmental benefits it’s providing: how many gallons of stormwater it’s helping to filter, how many pounds of air pollutants it’s capturing, how many kilowatt-hours of energy it’s conserving and how many tons of carbon dioxide it’s removing from the atmosphere. The open-source project is available for use by any community; time to start “missing” the forest for the trees near you….?