The Resource page is the jumping off point for all of the information out there on urban forestry. We don't claim to know everything there is to know about the subject, but we'll try to help you find those who do.
How to Identify the Species of Your Tree
Our public resource center urban forestry library has many books available to help you identify your tree. These books are available to be checked out for free. One of the best is Matt Ritter's new book, A Californian's Guide to the Trees Among Us. We have 30 copies of this volume available for individuals or groups to check out.
You can also bring a leaf sample to our visitor center for identification. Once you have an idea what tree species you might have, another way to verify the species is by checking the Tree Map to find a nearby tree with a known identity.
Another free public service resource is the UCCE Master Gardeners. Click here for more information on how to reach them for expert advice on the phone, by email or in person.
Coming soon: an Urban Tree Key for all of California! Although there are many guides and websites to help you identify tree species, few focus on urban trees. To fill this gap, a 60 species Urban Tree Key was developed recently for Northern California, and an upgrade is in progress now to include more than 250 species common to urban areas all across California.
How to Measure the Diameter of Your Tree's Trunk
The other tricky part of entering a tree on the San Diego County Tree Map is measuring the diameter of its trunk. It's tricky, but really important (it's the basis for calculating the eco impact of the tree and critical for understanding the diversity of the urban forest). Our colleagues in San Francisco created a video to help answer your questions, like: Isn't it easier to measure the circumference? What if the tree has more than one trunk? What if it's covered in ivy? How far up the tree do I measure? They've kindly shared their great video with us.
For school groups and other organizations interested in using professional tools to measure trees, our lending library at the Advice and Technical Assistance Center has 30 special tapes for measuring trunk diameter and three clinometers for measuring tree height.
Our favorite links
San Diego County Trees
CCSEís public urban forestry website has many links to San Diego County local resources, including educational opportunities and job training; information about laws, policy and ordinances; assistance with tree selection; and a list of local nurseries. This site also has many links to sources of information about the many social and economic benefits that trees bring to our cities.
Urban Ecosystems and Processes team (UEP)
The UEP (formerly known as the Center for Urban Forest Research), a unit of the US Forest Service, is the leading research institute studying the environmental benefits of urban forests. They have been working for nearly two decades to quantify and monetize the ecosystem services of trees. Their website is the go-to place for information on ways to maximize tree benefits, the latest in urban forestry research, the role of trees in fighting global climate change, tree animations, and tools to help with all of this. Be sure to sign up for their News Briefs to stay on top of the news.
San Diego Regional Urban Forest Council (SDRUFC)
SDRUFC is a member-driven coalition of agencies, businesses and educators working to improve our urban forest assets. They promote the benefits of trees for a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous San Diego region. They serve, inspire and engage community stakeholders by facilitating strong collaborations, partnerships and stewardship; increased urban forestry awareness and advocacy; sustainable public education and policies; and professional training and resource development.
SDRUFC is very active in the San Diego Region. They host bi-monthly meetings, which are open to the public, that focus on networking for regional professionals and every meeting has an educational presentation. Their list of online resources includes many tree-related topics of interest.
San Diego Community Garden Network (SDCGN)
The mission of the San Diego Community Garden Network (Network) is to create a healthy community garden movement in the County of San Diego and assist in the formation of community gardens through education, technical assistance and by linking gardeners.
The Network views community gardening as a method for building and empowering communities and for promoting social and economic justice, good health and nutrition, access to healthy, fresh local food, a sustainable urban environment and breaking down cultural, ethnic and generational barriers. The Network also envisions community gardens as partners with other groups working for similar goals.
Senior Gleaners of San Diego
This nonprofit organization includes more than 500 members, ranging in age from 50 to 99. They are dedicated to helping alleviate hunger in our region by gleaning produce from harvested fields, salvaging food from the food industry and working to distribute millions of pounds of food to member charitable organizations for distribution to the needy.
The mission of Harvest C.R.O.P.S. is to harvest residential fruit that would otherwise be abandoned, unpicked, and wasted. They provide volunteers to pick the fruit and deliver it, as a community service, to low-income families and seniors within the County of San Diego.
California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG), San Diego chapter
The San Diego Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers was created to educate people about rare fruits, to identify fruits that are adaptable to the local area, and to propagate and to exchange plant materials.
National Arbor Day Foundation
No tree website would be complete without mention of the Arbor Day Foundation. Their mission is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees, work they have done for nearly four decades.
Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening at the University of Washington
On the San Diego County Tree Map, we have concentrated (so far) on the presenting the more tangible benefits that trees provide. At the University of Washington under the guidance of Dr. Kathleen Wolf, the more "human dimensions" of urban forestry are being explored. Their website is a treasure trove of information about the role of trees in civic society.
Our favorite tools
SelecTree is an interactive tree selection website developed by the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute at Cal Poly. The goal is to help select the right tree species for a specific site. Users can select for native trees, trees fit for growing under powerlines, trees that attract bees and other wildlife, flowers or leaves of a specific color, disease resistance and many other traits. This is truly one of our favorite sites for information on trees--don't miss this one!
iTree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the U.S. Forest Service that allows communities of all sizes to strengthen their urban forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying the environmental services that trees provide and assessing the structure of the urban forest. The environmental benefit data presented in the San Diego County Tree Map comes directly from iTree Streets.
If you're interested in estimating and predicting the amount of carbon stored in a tree as well as the reduced amounts of carbon in the atmosphere due to the energy conserving contribution of trees, the CTCC is the tool for you. The CTCC (Center for Urban Forest Research Tree Carbon Calculator) was developed by the U.S. Forest Service's Center for Urban Forest Research for use with the Urban Forest Project Protocol, which allows entities to receive carbon offsets for planting trees. For more information on the Protocol, visit Climate Action Reserve.
National Tree Benefits Calculator
The NTBC is an online tool that uses information from iTree to calculate the benefits of individual trees.
- What if I don't know what species my tree is?
- What if my species isn't one of the options?
- How do I measure the trunk diameter of my tree?
- What are ecosystem services?
- Where does the Eco Impact data come from?
- What does it mean to be open-source?
- Why do you ask questions about things like sidewalk damage and utility lines?
- Sure, I like trees, but what good is all this? Why should I participate?
- I would really like to bring the Tree Map to my city. What can I do to get started?
- How good is this information going to be if it's entered by the general public?
- I'm a software developer and I have a cool idea for an iPhone app or a plug-in. Can I participate?
What if I don't know what species my tree is?
Your first stop should be the How-to section at the top of this page. If that doesn't help, but you can determine the genus of the tree (i.e., you know it's a maple, but you're not sure which one), you can enter just that. If you simply have no idea, go ahead and add the tree location to the map anyway. If you can upload pictures of the leaves, flowers, and fruits, that will help someone come behind you and fill in the gaps.
What if my species isn't one of the options?
The San Diego Tree Map currently includes several hundred species, but it is certainly not exhaustive. Drop us a line if yours isn't on the list and we'll add it as quickly as possible. (This takes a bit of time because new species have to be incorporated into the ecosystem services matrix.)
How do I measure the trunk diameter of my tree?
This can be kind of tricky and there are all sorts of possible permutations (trunks covered in ivy, trunks with bumps), so there's a video to walk you through it.
What are ecosystem services?
Our environment, when it's functioning well, provides many services that are critical to human health and survival. Some of the services that the trees around us provide include filtering pollutants out of the air and water, reducing energy use, sequestering carbon, and creating oxygen. The urban forest is a very valuable component of the environment, providing these services right in the places where we live, work, and play.
Where does the Eco Impact data come from?
All of the numbers and dollar values for the ecosystem services trees provide comes from the the Urban Ecosystems and Processes team of the US Forest Service (formerly the Center for Urban Forest Research) and their iTree Streets software tool. For more information, visit UEP and the iTree Tools website.
What does it mean to be open-source?
Well, the term open-source means a lot of things to a lot of people, but here we mean it as widely as possible: the data, the software source code, and the website html/css code are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) copyright terms. They are all freely available to anyone. All that is required is that you agree to follow the terms of the GPL license. For more information, visit the GNU website. The source code for this project and the other map projects can be downloaded from the OpenTreeMap page.
Why do you ask questions about things like sidewalk damage and utility lines?
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection offers grants to communities for conducting tree inventories and they require certain information to be included. We think (and they agree) that the San Diego Tree Map is a good tool both for doing the inventories and for maintaining the data, so we have included any fields they require.
Sure, I like trees, but what good is all this? Why should I participate?
You'll be taking a critical step to improve our urban environment and make our city a more green and liveable place. The information added to the Map will be used by urban forest managers, landscape architects, and planners to plan for future growth and planting opportunities, improve wildlife habitat, maximize ecosystem services, and grow a strong and healthy urban forest. While you're helping achieve those goals, you'll also be helping make your own environment better.
I would really like to bring this project to my city. What can I do to get started?
Drop us a line and we'll help you figure out the best way to move forward.
How good is this information going to be if it's entered by the general public?
To be honest, we're not sure yet, but we're in the middle of a field test to determine the accuracy. We'll keep you updated on the progress of that study, but in the mean time, we feel like we're on pretty solid ground, considering recent studies about the reliability of Wikipedia.
I'm a software developer and I have a cool idea for an iPhone app or a plug-in. Can I participate?
We would love to have your contribution. If you just want to make use of the data, download it from the map results. If you would like the source code, you'll find it here.
Our database of trees comes from public records and citizen foresters like you. Add a tree today and help us grow!