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In 2011 Friends of Trees, Inc. launched its Tree Inventory Project to catalog trees the Friends have planted throughout Chatham since the organization was founded in1978. Most of these trees were planted in public spaces in memory of loved ones. The goal of the GPS project is to develop a database of information about the trees in our care. Not only will the GPS/Tree Inventory project help us identify dying or diseased trees, it will also alert us to new planting sites and help with species distribution. Because trees are town assets, this project will establish a value for our trees at a given point in time.
The inventory is conducted in the field by an arborist or volunteers using a hand-held GPS device, a laptop computer, and a digital camera. The GPS device identifies the global coordinates of latitude and longitude showing the tree’s exact location. The tree’s size, health, condition, and maintenance required are noted in a digital database. A digital photograph is attached to each file. The data collected in the field then becomes part of Chatham’s Geographical Information System (GIS) so that tree data can be overlaid on the town map and becomes accessible to all residents on the town website.
The GPS Project is a useful tool that Friends of Trees uses to keep track of tree locations and the maintenance requirements for each tree. More than 200 memorial trees planted since 1995 have been cataloged on the mapping application and are available on the town website. We will continue to add trees to the map throughout the year, and we have plans to include the tree maps on the town overlay.