Environmental Studies students are teaming with the campus grounds crew to identify and inventory over 900 trees on campus. They are learning about tree diversity and using mapping technology to create an inventory in Tree Plotter, a cloud based software system. "We have a wide variety of trees on campus, many different species and hundreds need pruning and maintenance. Having the students enter the tree data and create a consolidated tree inventory is a huge help" says Jeff Truskowski, Director of Grounds. Once entered, the tree data is accessible via laptop or phone and can be updated and displayed on the Tree Plotter campus map instantaneously. With severe weather and storm damage to trees, the grounds crew will have critical information at their fingertips to address any safety issues.
On October 17th, Bill Haskins, Chairman of the Environmental Commission of the township of South Orange Village, will be speaking with the Environmental Studies students who are using Tree Plotter, to develop an action plan to identify and inventory all the trees in South Orange. The students are learning about the power of collaboration (with the campus grounds crew and the South Orange Environmental Commission), the power of technology to provide insight and actionable data, and most importantly, the value of all the beautiful trees on campus. The Tree Plotter software calculates the eco-benefits of the trees, showing their value in cleaning the air, managing storm water runoff, providing habitat for wildlife, and cooling the campus with their canopies of shade. Trees and biodiversity are just two of the many topics covered in the Introduction to Environmental Studies course, where students gain an appreciation for the natural beauty on campus and learn how to make a difference in the world, one tree at a time.