In the Philadelphia area? Contribute to PhillyTreeMap!

One of several  Honeylocust trees living harmoniously among 18th Century homes in Philadelphia
One of several Honeylocust trees living harmoniously among 18th Century homes in Philadelphia

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 Honeylocust trees lining our street but that these trees provide these yearly ecological benefits to my region:

Total Benefits: $318,804 saved. How? Greenhouse Gas Benefits: 554,597lbs CO2 reduced ($2,797 saved); Water Benefits: 3,928,345 gallons conserved ($38,890 saved); Energy Benefits: 184,521kWh conserved ($265,389 saved); Air Quality Benefits: 4,677lbs pollutants reduced ($11,726 saved).

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!

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Categories: Citizen Science, Ecology & Environment, Nature & Outdoors

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About the Author

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier is a Professor at Arizona State University's Center for Engagement and Training, part of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Cavalier is the founder of SciStarter. She is also the founder of Science Cheerleader, an organization of more than 300 current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers, and a cofounder of ECAST: Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology, a network of universities, science centers, and think tanks that produces public deliberations to enhance science policymaking. She is a founding board member of the Citizen Science Association, a senior advisor at Discover Magazine, a member of the EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, and was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences "Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning" committee. She is the author of The Science of Cheerleading and co-editor of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science, published by Arizona State University. Darlene holds degrees from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania and was a high school, college and NBA cheerleader. Darlene lives in Philadelphia with her husband and four children.