Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A TreeKIT Grows in Brooklyn

Richardson's "Tree the Town" program has been pretty quiet so far this fall. In fact, it's been pretty quiet ever since its initial burst of tree-plantings last fall. You have to go back to last October to find anything on its official event calendar.

So, after the jump, a recap of other cities' efforts, including a new one (new to me, anyway) in New York City.

I first noticed how other cities were concerned about urban trees when I read about Philadelphia's "GreenPlan," a database with a goal to record the location, species, and condition of up to 300,000 trees in that city.

The "Texas Trees Foundation" has developed its own mapping application that takes a different tack. It attempts to identify and inventory, not trees, but places in need of trees - barren patches of grass and concrete that could benefit from some shade. It's currently mapping potential locations for tree plantings in the city of Dallas.

Last week, I learned of a new effort in this regard, New York City's "TreeKIT," which is an ambitious attempt to map every tree in the city and every empty tree bed in need of a tree. The aspect of New York's effort that is most likely to lead to success is their effort to involve crowd-sourcing. Without public involvement, funding and interest in such efforts will wane and disappear.

"We've essentially deputized the entire city to be forest workers," says Silva, who hopes to expand the TreeKIT effort by training local community organizations to do the data collection on their own. "We should give them the tools they need to be active participants."
Source: Grist.org.

That brings us back to Richardson. Is public interest waning? Has city hall's attention wandered? At least based on the information highlighted on its website, about the only evidence that the "Tree the Town" program in Richardson is still active has been its advice for taking care of trees during a drought. There is nothing wrong with that. That's what the City of Dallas arborist Phil Erwin is concerned with as well. But, not only don't I see much in the way of new "Tree the Town" plantings taking place, I don't see much in the way of "Tree the Town" efforts to water and nurture the trees that are already planted, either. Maybe there is more going on behind the scenes. Maybe the website is neglected. Maybe the public announcements just aren't being made. I hope something like that explains it, because even though that tree growing in Brooklyn might survive all adversity on its own, here in Texas, our trees need some personal attention. A Texas drought is a whole 'nother thing.

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