‘Citizen Scientists’ Fuel Jersey City Tree Mapping Project
The nonprofit Sustainable Jersey City (SJC) has released the results of its first Tree Mapping Census season. While the census was launched in response to a worrisome statistic—a 6 percent decline in the city’s tree canopy since 2015—the success of the campaign, especially the significant volunteer turnout it inspired, is an encouraging sign for the ecological future of the city.
The campaign has mapped more than 5,000 trees and 800 empty tree-planting sites in neighborhoods across Jersey City. The results, available on SJC’s pilot platform, OpenTreeMap, provide summary and granular views of tree data, along with the urban tree canopy’s annual financial benefits to the city. SJC plans to use the data to effect legislative change and to make their platform available to other municipalities to help map and protect their tree canopies.
The program is headed by 22 volunteer neighborhood captains, who have mentored and led 300 volunteer citizen-scientists to collect tree data for all 35 Jersey City neighborhoods, and across six wards, in one of the largest volunteer-led efforts of its kind.
“I’m grateful for the response we’ve received to our tree-mapping efforts. Our neighborhood captains have really been cheerleaders for our campaign, and our citizen-scientist tree mappers have already mapped over 5,000 trees so far. We’re all enthusiastic about restoring Jersey City’s urban tree canopy,” says Erika Bruce, who’s leading the tree-mapping program.
The campaign, “We Can’t Manage What We Don’t Measure!” was launched in response to the findings of the Jersey City 2015-2020 Tree Canopy Report, commissioned by SJC. The report found that the canopy had deteriorated by more than 6 percent since the 2015 Jersey City Tree Canopy Assessment, and now reflected a mere 10.9 percent canopy cover for the city.
Anyone can sign up to map their neighborhood trees on the SJC Tree Mapping Census Registry. For more information, visit SustainableJC.org.