tree icon Tree Inventory & Map Project based learning

Trees play many valuable roles in our lives. They sequester carbon, produce oxygen, fix nitrogen and distill water in controlling pollution. Trees play a roll in cleaning the air. Properly located trees reduce the heating and cooling costs of buildings, as well as, contributing to more comfortable outdoor spaces. and improving human health. Strategically planted trees serve was windbreaks. Trees reduce soil erosion and provide important habitat and food sources for animals including mammals like people. Dead trees provide hunting perches for raptors and other birds. They can provide vital housing for many species of animals including woodpeckers, bluebirds and opossums. Trees add to the value of property. They serve as landmarks and historic reminders (Olympic Oaks, General Sherman & Liberty Tree). They even play a part in some cultural celebrations. USDA Community Tree Guide

Your community has decided to inventory all the trees. The goal is to create a map and a database with all the information collected for each tree. This information will be used to make decisions regarding tree maintenance, species of trees to plant and locations that would benefit from planting trees. Your class will be participating by collecting data.

Check out - Virginia Tech Tree Inventory | NatureMapping Program | Conducting a Community Tree Inventory

1. Select an area to inventory. This could be your school's campus, a local public park or a neighborhood.

If your are working in a neighborhood, you can do measurements of street trees. Be sure to respect property rights. Do not enter private property without permission.

2. Make a rough map of the area that includes structures, streets and waterways. If there is a locally available map of your community, you could use it. (Local Chambers of Commerce, visitors agency or realtors often have free, local maps.)

3. Review how to make tree measurements. Be consistent about the height you use for the circumference.
Follow the national standard height 4.5 feet above ground.

4. Data to consider collecting:

(make a paper form or a spreadsheet/database with the data to be collected so that each tree is on a separate form or ss row or db record.)

bullet Location - use GPS if possible, use street address if it is not.

bullet Species - scientific name & common name in a second field/cell

bullet Native or nonnative tree

bullet Evergreen or deciduous

bullet Size - trunk girth (circumference) 4.5 feet above ground - American Forests Measuring Guide

bullet Type of leaf

bullet Leaf color | Leaf margin

bullet Shape of tree

bullet Fruit, nut or seed?

bullet Estimated size of mature tree - you will need to research this

bullet Condition of tree

bullet Digital photo of the tree - You could have the goal to take one in each season to present a complete picture.

bullet Impact on area it is growing. Example - adds shade to walkway, fruits or nuts are messy or hazardous, fruits or nuts provide free/cheap food source, planted close to utility wires or structures, flowers enhance downtown shopping area in spring, exacerbates allergies for some people, stabilizes slope, nationally, state or regionally significant species.


Divide the site into sub areas with two or 3 people working in each sub area.

Assemble your tools. What will you need?

Collect the data. How will you avoid counting trees more than once?

Publish your findings.

Check out Tree inventory leads to a plan to plant 100,000 trees where they are needed.

bullet What is the diversity of the tree species?

bullet What percentage are native trees to your region?

bullet Identify an area that would benefit from tree planting.

Haverford Arboretum - tree tour | UW Campus Tree Tour

map of trees Trees of Penn State | List of PSU Arboretum trees


Arbor Day site tree data | Urban & Community Forestry | Tree Facts

From the Woods - Community Forests | National Tree Benefit Calculator

Green Maps Around the World | Tales from Urban Forest

National Register of Big Trees | i-Tree - public domain (free) tree mapping software

On this website: About Trees | Maple Tree and Sugar Bush | Trees of fencerows

Trees & plants of wetlands | Tree Comparison/Contrast Project based on My Side of the Mountain

Plants and People

Gap Analysis is a scientific means for assessing habitats & if native animal & plant species are being protected.

Pathfinder Science - "hands-on, minds-on" activities (student scientists not just science students)

Capturing Carbon - Nova Science Now online video Jul. 2008
An eighth-grader's science fair project prompts her scientist father to develop a new way to pull excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Read how these scientists estimated there were 3 trillion trees on our planet. Try it. count how many kids are in your classroom. How many classrooms are there in your school? Estimate how many students attend your school. Find out - how close you are to the actual count.

Florida cities ask: Are there too many palms?

Oaks are vital members of our ecosystem. Learn lots about oaks and the numerous species that depend on them.


" I never knew the value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive my company.
What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown. " Thomas Jefferson

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
- Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933

"When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope." - Prof Wangari Maathai

"The unnecessary felling of a tree, perhaps the growth of centuries, seems to me a crime little short of murder." Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson adage, " To old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for posterity."


Internet Hunts / Nature / Plants and People / Computers / Puzzles & Projects / Pennsylvania Projects / Home
All trademarks, copyright and logos belong to their respective owners.

2008 Cynthia J. O'Hora dedicated to honor Dr. Wangari Maathai
Released for use by nonprofit organizations posted 5/2008, utd 8/2021, utd 1/2022, utd 4/2024