The San Diego County Tree Map is a collaboration of nonprofits, local governments, businesses and you to map every tree in San Diego County. 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 improve municipal oversight for water and air resource management and can offer city managers, arborists, landscape architects and public works directors technical data to better specify and manage trees for our region. Utility companies will see the long-term energy savings that strategically located trees provide, and urban forest managers will be able to track and combat tree pests and diseases and plan future tree plantings. Climatologists can also use the Tree Map to understand better the role our urban forest plays in climate change, and students and citizen scientists can use it to learn about the role trees play in the urban ecosystem.
The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), sponsor of the San Diego County Tree Map, is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating change for a clean energy future.
The San Diego County Tree Map was inspired by a seminar given at the California Urban Forests Council conference held in Temecula, California, in October 2010. Proof that sometimes the best is reserved for last, during the final session of the conference, Kelaine Vargas of Urban Ecos presented the precedent-setting Urban Forest Map of San Francisco. Anyone who departed early that day, truly missed the highlight of the conference. What a success story!
Fortunately, Robin Rivet had chosen to remain to hear every bit--and was so inspired by it, she wondered whether it would be possible to recreate that achievement in our Southern California region. It seemed promising, but a funding source and the appropriate collaborators would still be needed. As luck would have it, within a few weeks, CCSE offered Robin a position to create an urban forestry hub and help provide sustainable landscape and tree advocacy for our community. This funding was supplied through a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) funded by Proposition 84, which was aimed at protecting natural resources. By the summer of 2011, much of the work for CCSE's Advice and Technical Assistance Center for Urban Forestry was well underway, and sufficient funds remained to build the San Diego County Tree Map. The rest is history.
Since August 2011, the CCSE staff has worked very hard to fast-track this effort to launch a live map by March 2012. Without the open-source code in place and steady guidance from Kelaine, none of this would have been possible. She offered solid advice, while allowing us the latitude to experiment and expand on the original prototype. Our large county had unique challenges, including four iTree climate zones, and we are very proud of our initial results and look forward to future collaboration with the many stakeholders in our county.
Due to the current economic climate, most all our countyís municipalities have been cutting tree management departments and municipal positions and disbanding citizen advisory boards for urban forestry. The few professional staff are left to preserve, advocate for and enhance the urban forest, but the future health of our cities depends on the ecological contributions that trees provide. The following are just a few of the many objectives of the Tree Map.
- Make use of the latest peer-reviewed science to present information on the ecosystem services that trees provide, demonstrating that trees are more than just street ornaments.
- Encourage citizen participation in the democratic process of monitoring, understanding and educating awareness about tree values.
- Encourage cities to maintain their municipal tree inventories, especially once they see the treesí enormous environmental values.
- Engage citizen participation in the process of monitoring the urban forest, understanding the value of trees and sharing that information with others.
- Reduce the need for costly proprietary software by offering open-source technology that can work with existing systems.
- Allow urban planning departments to more easily understand and plan for the future health of the urban forest as it relates to city infrastructure, as well as integrating trees into their energy, carbon, water and air resource policies and management.
- Offer a low-cost alternative to cities that lack up-to-date technology or have tree inventories only on paper.
- Enable multiple agencies to access the public website to upload and download data, thereby improving coordination among different government entities. (In San Diego County there are eighteen incorporated cities, vast areas of unincorporated land and state and federal property.)
- Gather information about the large proportion of the urban forest on private property, which for logistical and cost reasons is rarely, if ever, included in an inventory. Encouraging private citizens to plant more trees through incentive programs is a logical next step for government.
- Encourage better understanding of the benefits versus costs of urban trees and encourage dialog for a progressive vision about the need to preserve and plant more residential, municipal and commercial trees.
Knowledge of the urban forest -- where the trees are, what species are represented, how old and healthy they are, the distribution of trees geographically -- has great value for researchers, city foresters, ecologists, landscape architects, tree advocacy groups, and residents.
Our goal with the San Diego County Tree Map is to provide a one-stop repository for tree data, welcoming information from any agency or group and enabling and celebrating citizen participation. Together we'll work toward building a complete, dynamic picture of the urban forest.
CalFire -- The mission of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Urban Forestry Program is to develop a regional and statewide cooperative effort to advance the development of sustainable urban and community forests. The Urban Forestry Program offers grants of over $1 million dollars a year to plant trees and over $2.5 million for related projects in urban communities throughout California. Seven Urban Forestry Field Specialists provide expert support to communities, non-profit groups and other municipal governments to create and maintain sustainable urban forests.
California Center for Sustainable Energy -- The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that helps residents, businesses and public agencies save energy, reduce grid demand and generate their own power through a variety of rebate, technical assistance and education programs. CCSE also provides the community with objective information, research, analysis and long-term planning on energy issues and technologies.
San Diego County's Municipal Governments -- We wish to thank the cities of Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista for their contributions to this initial tree map effort. Point Loma Nazarene University also added its campus trees to our database.
San Diego Regional Urban Forest Council -- The mission of SDRUFC is to optimize the community and urban forests in the San Diego region and achieve their sustainability through planning, education and coordination. Offering training, advocacy and commitment, they seek to serve and inspire residents and businesses to sustain a healthy regional ecosystem.
West Coast Arborists -- West Coast Arborists work in many communities throughout San Diego County caring for public trees. Many of the city inventories in our database were gathered in the course of their duties and we are grateful for their invaluable contributions.
Our database of trees comes from public records and citizen foresters like you. Add a tree today and help us grow!