Tree management goes digital in California (with related video)
Hundreds of thousands of trees, their maintenance records, GIS coordinates, photos and other detailed information all fits into the palms of L.A. City Parks employees.
Laura Bauernfeind, Principal Forester for the Department of Recreation and Parks for Los Angeles, partnered with The Davey Tree Expert Company for the use of TreeKeeper, Davey’s web-based tree management software, to track all of the department’s trees spread across more than 16,000 acres in Southern California.
“TreeKeeper helps us manage our resource but also manage our priorities,” Bauernfeind said. “In order to manage something and care for something, you have to know what you have. You need to have an inventory and system in place to manage your priorities and track that valuable infrastructure.”
The TreeKeeper software operates on numerous mobile devices, including iPads, Toughbooks and other tablets. That gives L.A. City Parks employees the ability to manage an existing tree inventory, produce flexible data reports and manage work orders all from the field. The system’s field access also allows employees to work with real-time data that reflects a variety of tree care work, including new plantings, inventory additions and maintenance work such as pruning and removals.
Dana Karcher, market manager for Davey Resource Group, a division of Kent, Ohio-based Davey Tree, said the TreeKeeper software can create reports by almost any category, including tree species, age, forest density and maintenance frequency.
“By developing reports about where she may be lacking trees, Bauernfeind can determine where they should be planting new trees,” Karcher said. “She can also look at species balance to see what else she should be planting to level out the different types of species she has throughout the parks. Species diversification is very important to manage against pests and disease.”
To date, L.A. City Parks has worked with Davey to inventory about 60,000 trees and input their data, including GIS mapping pinpoints for each tree, into TreeKeeper. L.A. City Parks is responsible for an estimated 337,600 trees.
The inventory data includes detailed information about the value of each tree and is used by L.A. City Parks to quantify the value of a forest that may be lost to a wildfire or intense drought.
Bauernfeind said the ability to establish a permanent record of the work that is done on a tree-by-tree basis has proven invaluable to prioritizing the parks’ tree management.
“Our goal is to help educate the public about the value, importance and extensive nature of the park urban forest,” Bauernfeind said. “It potentially could be a huge educational component as well for us to leverage and educate local politicians.”
Matt Fredmonsky is in The Davey Tree Expert Company corporate communications department.
The importance of trees as a natural resource and the company’s role in communities are topics of this video.