If you thought back to the last time you climbed a tree as a child, or begged your dad to build you a tree house in your backyard, were you ever curious to know how much that tree was worth? The truth is most likely not. However, Hope College has acquired an extremely impressive collection of expensive, noteworthy trees that will impress tree huggers and climbers alike.
To fully appreciate the towering maples and giant pines that stand guard over our campus, some background information is needed. A tree identification project was recently spearheaded by grounds manager Robert Hunt. Two hundred trees on campus were identified and cataloged in an online site called ArborScope that uses Bartlett Inventory Solutions by Bartlett Tree Experts. This website uses cutting-edge landscape management technology to keep track of the collection of plants on a property. By providing an organizational filtering system, ArborScope records location, species, age, height, health condition, and more to help make budget-conscious and eco-friendly decisions on a landscape property. If a large tree near a building provides a lot of shade in the summer, it can reduce the amount and cost of energy needed to cool the building it may have needed if it were in direct sunlight. Alternatively, a large tree near a building during the winter can protect from a wind chill and reduce the cost of heating. All these calculations are added up in a number system. Even factors like how much carbon dioxide a particular species of tree uses and potential soil erosion nears its location are used to determine a tree’s worth. The cumulative value of all the inventoried trees on the Hope College campus adds up to $1,850,722.75. It does not take a botanist to respect that number. Trees on campus range in prices anywhere from a young Pine-Eastern White at $48.25 to a mature Oak-Northern Red at $45,135.64. The website keeps records for many properties, but you may visit Hope’s dedicated page as well. The table can be organized by the common name of the tree, its estimated value, and more. The list of trees may also be viewed in a map form, where the location of each registered tree is shown and a few extra details about it are supplied.
In addition to ArborScope’s map view, Leafsnap is a visual recognition software from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution that allows the everyday smart-phone user on the streets to identify tree species based on photographs of their leaves. This free mobile app gives its users images and information about that particular tree, such as its fruit, flowers and bark. The images are then shared through your phone with the scientific community at http://leafsnap.com/ to observe any variation in the plant world. Right now, Leafsnap only covers trees in the Northeast, but plans to expand nationwide. So the next time you and your friends are throwing a Frisbee in Pine Grove, snap a picture of a tree and contribute to the Leafsnap’s mission!
If you’re curious about your surroundings and want to learn more, we’ve got some great resources in the library, too. Check out a book on native trees to our area. (Be on the lookout for an eBook version of that same title coming soon!) Or, search through one of our databases in the Geology and Environmental Sciences subject area.
by Gemma Davies, Student Blogger