There is a small sign in the Milwaukee DNR office that instructs the reader to “Learn of a pine tree from a pine tree.” In other words, to better understand something, one has to see it, feel it, smell it, rather than just reading about it. In urban forestry, this manifests itself in tree inventories, or surveys of individual trees in a given area. Municipalities have recognized the importance of these tree inventories for years, and now, led by a few pioneering teachers, so have some schools.
The DNR Urban Forestry program and LEAF, Wisconsin’s K-12 Forestry Education Program, are teaming up with high school teachers to conduct tree inventories on school grounds and have them displayed on the Wisconsin Community Tree Map, a compilation of inventories from around the state. More teachers are sought to help pilot the inventory program before a full curriculum is completed by LEAF.
Tree inventories are used for many purposes, particularly to schedule tree maintenance, identify health risks, identify planting locations and, of particular relevance to this project, for education.
Under the current inventory process, students working in groups access the tree map via a smart phone and collect data related to the species, size, condition and location of the trees. Different resources are also made available from the DNR and LEAF, such as the new Wisconsin Urban Tree Key. With the pursuit of a tree inventory, students can learn more about the trees and forest ecosystems around them, becoming more intimately familiar with the places and spaces in which they live.
To learn more about tree inventories on school grounds, contact DNRUrbanForestryAssessment@wisconsin.gov.
Written by: Dan Buckler, WI DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Daniel.Buckler@wisconsin.gov, 608-445-4578