Sunday, November 9, 2008

Can't see Amanda for the trees

Amanda works for the City of St. Albert. One of her responsibilities is doing a tree inventory for the city. That requires her to map every tree whether its on a street, a boulevard or in the parks. 

To do that she uses a G.P.S. (global positioning system) to mark the position of each tree. She notes the species and other features such as its health or any damage to the tree. It's necessary to go right up to each tree and this often generates strange looks from passerbys as they wonder why Amanda is lurking in the trees. But I think she's used to that now!

Back in the office she puts the data into the computer using GIS, (geographic information science - Arc map software). Then she creates maps showing the trees and streets and aerial photos. 

Once she's completed this phrase of the project, St. Albert will have a complete record of all the city's green assets. They can use this to project how much the city needs to spend to rejuvenate the parks or to protect the trees from disease. When you consider that the value of each tree is about $30,000 (taking in account the replacement costs and the environmental work each tree performs - keeping our air clean), you can see how important and vital her work is.  St. Albert is the first city in Alberta to undertake this work.

Just for the record, St Albert's most common trees are the Green Ash, followed by Elms, Maydays and Lindens.

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