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LEARN & EXPLORE
  • CONSERVATION EDUCATION RESOURCES: INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY GROUP GUIDE

    Logo for Tree Trails

     

    Texas A&M Forest Service wants to get youth, individuals and community groups outside to learn about forests and trees and their uses, values, and benefits. By creating a Tree Trail, you can help celebrate trees in your neighborhood and community.

     

    We have compiled this online guide to help individuals and groups not associated with schools to complete a trail and learn about the benefits of community trees. 

    Tree Trails curriculum materials and resources were developed by Texas A&M Forest Service in cooperation with Texas Urban Forestry Council and was supported by grants from the USDA Forest Service and Keep America Beautiful.

    TFS        TUFC logo        USFS        KAB

     

     


     + Steps To Create Your Trail Online

    Once you are on the Tree Trails online mapping application,

    1. Find your location

    Enter the address or longitude and latitude in the Navigation Field. Nav

    Note: GPS readings are entered in decimal degrees as longitude space latitude in this Navigation Field.

    2. Click Add Trail button

    Add

    Now select trees in the order you want them on the trail. Each click will add a tree to the trail.

    Using satellite view or zooming into your long/lat coordinates will make finding trees online easier.

    3. Double click to end the trail

    You will see the trail and trees populate online.

    4. Select the green trail line

    Trail

    Enter the Trail Name, Type, Affiliation if applicable and Hours (total hours spent working on the trail)


     

     

    5. Select an individual tree
    Data

    Enter its identification, measurement and condition information. Continue until all trees are complete.

    A comments box allows you to add notes about your tree or your group.

    Photos can only be added using the mobile application.





    6. Celebrate and share your trail

    Find ideas in the Celebrate Your Trail tab below or for students in the Student Service Leader Sample list.



    Lastly, a Quick Start guide is available to download with additional information. 

     

     

     + Web and Mobile Application

    The web application on the Texas Forest Information Portal allows the user to enter tree data in stages. After the trees are marked, the trail is created. The user can add some or all data to individual trees at any time. If any data is missing, the tree is shown with a white hole. When all data is entered, the tree becomes solid green.


    The mobile application for Apple products requires all data for an individual tree to be entered before allowing the user to mark another tree on the trail. So all identification and measuring must take place before being able to save a tree and move to the next. Photos can only be uploaded from the mobile app.

    A work-around for schools/groups is to map the trees on the web application first, then open the mobile app to access each tree. Partial data can then be entered and saved in stages. 

     

     + Data to Collect

    Recording Data

    A Tree Trails Data Sheet helps in collecting your data. Use the program sheet or create your own.

    All recorded measurements should be rounded down to the nearest whole number.

    Foresters round down in tree measurements instead of rounding up, because the tree has not yet reached the higher measurement. They keep to whole numbers because of the relative accuracy of repeatability – roughed up bark and even relative humidity can make small differences, as can having the tape measure less than perfectly perpendicular to the centerline of the trunk. 

     

    Data Needed

    Tree order – decide what order the trees will be 

     

    Location – record address or latitude and longitude to assist in navigating to the tree within the web application

    Note: GPS readings are entered in decimal degrees as longitude space latitude in the Navigation Field 

    Tree Species – enter common name or use drop down menu 

    If your species is not listed, choose the Genus, Other, Coniferous or Other, Broadleaf. 

    Please email us about trees not listed.

    Circumference – units are inches       

    Note: the application requires the diameter measurement of the tree. Skip if you measure diameter using another method. Formula to convert circumference to diameter: D = C / 3.1415

    Diameter – units are inches

    Height – units are feet

    Crown Spread – units are feet

    Condition Rating – indicate Good, Fair, or Poor

    Comments – record any notes about the tree or group as needed

     + Identify Your Tree

    Download a Getting Started on Leaf Characteristics (PDF, 1MB) handout or use these online resources.

    General identification information

    Texas A&M Forest Service, Trees of Texas, How To ID 

    Texas A&M Forest Service, Trees of Texas, Leaf Collecting and Safety

    Online identification resources

    Texas A&M Forest Service, Trees of Texas, ID by Leaf 

    Arbor Day Foundation, What Tree is That? field guide

    Virginia Tech, Dichotomous Leaf Key

    Mobile identification applications

    Leafsnap

    Arbor Day Foundation, What Tree is That? app

     

     + Measure Diameter

    Recording Data

    All recorded measurements should be rounded down to the nearest whole number.

    Foresters round down in tree measurements instead of rounding up, because the tree has not yet reached the higher measurement. They keep to whole numbers because of the relative accuracy of repeatability – roughed up bark and even relative humidity can make small differences, as can having the tape measure less than perfectly perpendicular to the centerline of the trunk.

    Is It One Tree or Two (or More?)

    Determine whether a tree has a single trunk or whether it represents two or more stems growing very close to one another. Trunks that have clear separation or include bark at or near the ground line should be considered separate trees; trunks of different species should also be considered separate trees, no matter how close together. When following the circumference rules below, if the point below the lowest fork places the measurement at the ground line, the stems should be considered separate.

    Using Circumference   

    measuring tree2
    First, find the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) point which is, as a general rule, 4.5 feet up from the ground. (see Example A below

     

    Then, find the smallest trunk circumference between the DBH point and the ground. 

    Measure and record, in inches, that smallest trunk circumference. If the tree forks, measure below the lowest fork. (see Example B below)

    Lastly, convert the circumference to diameter with the formula D = C / 3.1415


    Enter the diameter measurement in the online data sheet for the tree.



    Considerations for Determining DBH Point

    Tree on Slope:  Measure up 4.5 feet along the axis of the trunk on high and low sides; DBH point is midway between these two planes. (see Example C below)

    Leaning Tree: Measure 4.5 feet along both the top and undersides of the trunk; DBH point is midway between these two planes. (see Example D below)

    Low Branches: When determining where on the trunk to measure circumference, ignore portions that do not form part of the tree's crown, such as dead branches or forks, and epicormic sprouts, which are ones that grow from the trunk or branches.

    Obstruction at DBH: If there is a bump, burl, branch, or other obstruction at the DBH point, measure the circumference above and below the obstruction and record the smaller value. A buttress that forms between the trunk and root system as a natural feature of the species (e.g. baldcypress, water tupelo) should not be considered an obstruction. 

     

    A. Diameter at Breast HeightB. Forked TreeC. Tree on SlopeD. Leaning Tree
    StraightTree2Branches on Trunk2TreeOnSlope2LeaningTree2

    Illustrations copyright International Society of Arboriculture


    Download a Tree Measurement Guidelines handout (PDF, 2MB)

     + Measure Height

    Recording Data

    All recorded measurements should be rounded down to the nearest whole number.

     

    Foresters round down in tree measurements instead of rounding up, because the tree has not yet reached the higher measurement. They keep to whole numbers because of the relative accuracy of repeatability – roughed up bark and even relative humidity can make small differences, as can having the tape measure less than perfectly perpendicular to the centerline of the trunk.

     

    Height

    Find the vertical distance between the ground and the tallest part of the live crown. 

    Record the measurement in feet. Also record the method used to determine this value.

    Method choices include: direct measurement [telescoping pole, climbing], clinometer, hypsometer, relascope, laser rangefinder [w/ or w/o internal clinometer], stick method, pencil method, comparison, or wild guess. 

     

    Pencil Method 

    1. Person 1 stands near the trunk of the tree. Person 2 stands far enough away to see both Person 1 and the top of the tree.


    2. Person 2 holds a pencil (or ruler) upright at arm’s length and (carefully!) walks forward or backward until the entire length of their ruler covers the tree from base to top. (see Example E below)

    3. Still holding the ruler at arm’s length, Person 2 turns their wrist right or left so that the ruler is now horizontal, with one end even with the base of the tree.

    4. Have Person 1 move away from the trunk in the direction the ruler is pointed (at a 90 degree angle) until they are standing where the end of the ruler points. (see Example F below)

    5. Person 1 is now standing roughly the same distance from the trunk as the tree is tall. Use a tape measure to record this distance, in feet.

     

     

    E. Step 1F. Step 2
    Height-Step-1.2 Height-Step-2.2


    Download a Tree Measurement Guidelines handout (PDF, 2MB) 

    Yardstick Method

    Watch a video of Dr. Dean Coble and Jason Grogan illustrate how to measure the height of a tree using a yardstick. Stephen F. Austin's Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture 

     

     + Measure Crown Spread

    Crown Spread

    Along the drip line of the tree, you will take two measurements of the crown width at right angles, or perpendicular, to one another.
    Then, you will average the two measurements for the crown spread.


    Drip Line: the outline on the ground of the outermost leaves of the crown. Include only live portions of the crown. (see Example G below)

    Measurement 1: find the widest crown spread, which is the greatest distance between any two points along the drip line and measure the length, in feet. (see Example H below)

    Measurement 2: turn the measurement line 90 degrees, or perpendicular, from Measurement 1’s line, find the widest crown spread along this plane and measure the length, in feet. (see Example I below)

    G. Drip LineH. Measurement 1I. Measurement 2
    DripLine2 Widest crown spread90Degrees2

     

    Illustrations by Pete Smith


    Download a Tree Measurement Guidelines handout (PDF, 2MB)  

    Watch a video of Dr. Dean Coble and Jason Grogan illustrate a simple method of measuring the average crown diameter of a tree. Stephen F. Austin's Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture

     

     + Benefits of Your Trees

    Advances in the science of urban forestry allow us to assign monetary values to a wide range of benefits that trees in the urban areas provide. As trees grow, these values rise - the only part of the built environment of our cities that does so!

    In the Tree Trails application, the values of the benefits are illustrated for a specific selection, whether an individual tree, a trail or a group of trails. 

    Benefits Breakdown

    Stormwater Intercepted

    stormwater1Trees reduce stormwater runoff and help regulate stream flows. Water runoff from surfaces like roadways and parking lots wash chemicals like oil or gasoline into streams, wetlands, rivers and oceans. These chemicals may harm drinking water, aquatic life and the ecosystem.

        Find an interactive poster at Arbor Day Foundation.

    Air Quality

    airquality1Tree improve air quality. Leaves absorb air pollution that causes asthma, coughing and other health issues. Leaves also help remove dust and other matter from the air, then rain washes it to the ground.


    Carbon Dioxide

    carbondioxide1Trees help reduce atmospheric carbon. They absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Trees store carbon dioxide in their roots, trunks and leaves while they grow.


    Energy Savings

    energy1Trees alter climate and conserve energy use. Trees help buildings use less energy. In summer, trees shading east and west walls keep buildings cooler. In winter, allowing the sun to shine on the southern side of a building can warm inside spaces. Trees slow down winds around buildings and help decrease heat loss.

    Find two animated models showing how planting trees around a house increases energy efficiency. 

        Texas A&M Forest Service

        Arbor Day Foundation


    Property Value

    propertyvalue1Trees in front of homes increase property value. Research has verified this by showing that homebuyers are willing to pay more for properties with more trees.


    Download an overview of Annual Benefits (PDF, 1.3MB)

    Urban Forest Benefits Information Sheets

    Environmental (PDF 672KB)

    Social (PDF 1.64MB)

    Economic (PDF 898KB)

    Other Online Resources
    National Tree Benefit Calculator

    USDA Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research

    Arbor Day Foundation

    International Society of Arboriculture Consumer Information Program

     

     + Celebrate Your Trail

    Ideas

    1. Add tree tags or trail signs

        Download a sample Tree Trails Tree Tag (PDF, 789KB), fill out, laminate and hang on your trees.

              Printing on weather resistant or waterproof paper is a good option too. 

        Purchase My Tree-Our Forest Tree Tags from the National Association of State Foresters.

    2. Host an Arbor Day event

        Find Tips to Create a Memorable Arbor Day event

    3. Add a Trail Owner button to your website

        Trail Owner button

        Trail Owner button for Keep America Beautiful trails

        Trail Owner button with customizable area

        Contact us and we will customize one for you. 

    4. Share online #TXTreeTrails