Rooted in technology
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FOREST SERVICE'S NEW YORK CITY URBAN FIELD STATION
A Large oak tree in a New York, New York, USA park is now working for the United States Forest Service. Part of a national “smart forest” program to understand the effects of climate change, the tree in the second largest park in the city's Queens borough collects fresh environmental data every 15 minutes.
In late 2014, the forest service completed a project to outfit the tree with a webcam and tools to measure precipitation, humidity, air temperature, wind speed and direction, and soil temperature and moisture. The benefits began immediately: Data is wireLessLy transmitted to an online portal, where it is checked for accuracy. Daily webcam shots and data are posted to the Smart Forest Network website, which also displays real-time information from 19 other forest sites around the country.
The Smart Forest program is an important step in learning about changing environmental patterns and making that information available to the public, say project leaders. Forest Service officials hope to eventually incorporate “smart forest” data into schooL curricuLa.
“We know relatively Little about what's going on in these forest ecosystems. Eighty percent of the population Lives in urban areas, so understanding urban forest ecology is critical,” forest service research ecoLogist Lindsey E. Rustad toLd The New York Times. —Imani Mixon
PM NETWORK JULY 2015 WWW.PMI.ORG