COMMUNITREE: Connecting tree databases to the public, improving urban tree data for business, government and research

Lead Participant: Forest Research

Abstract

"Trees in urban areas are vitally important parts of our culture, heritage,urban environment; and physical / mental health and wellbeing. They make our parks, towns and cities more pleasant to live in, keep them cool in the heat, reduce flooding, clean the air and provide homes for wildlife. The ancient trees of our towns and cities are living connections to the past.

Looking after trees in the pressures of the urban environment is difficult: there are competing needs of maintaining the environment, managing the negative impacts of trees: i.e. building subsidence and damage to roads; and keeping trees, people and property safe. For trees on public land, this task is mainly the job of local authorities and the companies they contract to assist them. But as budgets are cut and workloads increase, monitoring and managing urban trees is becoming more challenging. In addition, given the scale of the task, organisations like local authorities and contractors do not always fully understand the way that ordinary citizens assign value to the trees around them.

To properly look after our urban trees we need to allow members of the public to share ownership and responsibility; and joining in with collecting information on them can help. Unfortunately our current systems don't allow this: where data exist they are fragmented, collected in different ways on different computer systems and stored away from public access. Some cities have online tree maps, but none allow members of the public to contribute data directly. This places a large burden on the organisations which hold and manage the data and stops them working with each other and the public to better manage their trees.

The COMMUNITREE project aims to develop a world-leading app and website which will build the world's largest open tree map and become the basis for members of the public to share with those responsible for urban trees in the monitoring, management and understanding of trees in our towns. We will use our position as the UK's leading organisations in urban tree citizen science to work closely with others involved in urban trees, local authorities and the private sector to implement a standard for data collection that will make data fully transferable between these different users. Ultimately, we expect these tools to help those responsible for urban trees work with the public to manage them more effectively for the benefit of trees and people."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Forest Research, United Kingdom £50,367 £ 50,367
 

Participant

Treework Services Limited £130,742 £ 58,834
Open University Worldwide Limited, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE £43,381 £ 43,381

Publications

10 25 50