This logbook gathers examples of digital maps and participatory platforms used by local governments and citizens for tracking and managing urban trees .

Enniscorthy, Wexford, Ireland



Curio platform, showing trees added by community members in County Wexford, Ireland. Image source: Curio [screenshot]. Retrieved 4 May 2023, from https://www.curio-eco.com/world/tagged-trees/

Curio is a platform where users can add information, data, and stories about trees in their local area. The platform emerged from Breadboard Labs' European Space Agency funded project, Curio Canopy, which produced an open data London Tree Canopy Cover map using aerial and satellite imagery and machine learning. Curio is aimed at multiple stakeholders, including members of the public, community groups, landscape managers, NGOs, and local government bodies. The platform has most use in particular cities in the UK and Ireland, Western and Northern Europe, and the United States.

Philadelphia, United States


PhillyTreeMap is a participatory map database of trees in the greater Philadelphia region, built by the software design company Azavea with funding from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The map enables the public (as well as non-profit, and government organisations) to add information about trees, with the aim of creating an accurate, up-to-date inventory of Philadelphia's urban forest.

Screenshot of the PhillyTreeMap with trees and empty planting sites marked out. Image source: PhillyTreeMap [screenshot]. Retrieved 28 July 2022, from https://www.opentreemap.org/phillytreemap/map/

While participatory projects can contribute to the maintenance of urban forests, they can also reproduce existing inequalities. For example, Foster and Dunham (2015) compared PhillyTreeMap to a map of high resolution Lidar land cover data showing tree canopy in the area. Noting the disparity between the two maps and cross-referencing with demographic data, they highlight that more voluntary geographic data was added to PhillyTreeMap in neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of white residents, raising questions around how data inequities lead to the representation of certain geographies over others and might influence policy decisions around forests.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne Urban Forest Visual

Screenshot of a section of the Melbourne Urban Forest Visual map. Image source: City of Melbourne Urban Forest Visual [screenshot]. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from http://melbourneurbanforestvisual.com.au/#mapexplore

Urban Forest Visual maps all the trees in the City of Melbourne, with information about genus and age available on an open data portal. The City also uses LiDAR and orthophotography to calculate tree canopy cover across the city, with plans to increase canopy cover as part of climate change adaptations.

Screenshot of text from a news story on the tree email phenomenon. Image source: Margaret Burin, Ben Spraggon, ABC [screenshot]. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-12/people-are-emailing-trees/10468964
Screenshot of text from a news story on the tree email phenomenon. Image source: Margaret Burin, Ben Spraggon, ABC [screenshot]. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-12/people-are-emailing-trees/10468964

Each tree has an individual ID and residents and visitors to the site can email the City with any information or concerns they have about the tree. When the City introduced the email system in 2013, local government workers were taken by surprise as residents began to send emails not only to report problems but as letters to the trees themselves, sharing personal stories and thoughts. Email-a-tree became a popular phenomenon that spread beyond the City and was picked up by international media.

Marion, Adelaide, South Australia


Screenshot of Marion – A Green City interactive map, showing the planting layer. Image source: City of Marion A Green City [map]. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://trees.marion.sa.gov.au/

Forestree is tree management software aimed at local governments. The software enables Councils to record and maintain accurate data on individual trees and planting programmes, and to automate tree inspections. In one application in the City of Marion, Australia, Forestree has been used to create Marion – A Green City, an interactive map that allows users to access individual tree data (such as species, age, canopy, and height), and also to toggle different layers to see past and planned planting, watering, and tree works.

Los Angeles, California, United States


A section of an aerial view map of trees in Los Angeles. Image source: Registree [image]. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://registree.ethz.ch/explore-demos.html

RegisTree (a collaboration between ETH Zürich and CalTech) uses deep learning to detect and inventory street trees from publicly available images of a city. Combining geo-referenced aerial and streetview images from Google Maps with map data, the RegisTree system identifies a tree's location, species, and approximate trunk diameter, and estimates its state of health. The aim of the system is to allow local councils managing urban trees to locate areas where trees need further maintenance, and where new trees could be planted. RegisTree has so far been piloted in Los Angeles.

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