“Neighborhood Trees Summer Inspectors: Social Pressure for Tree Health” by Susie Peterson, Neighborhood Trees Specialist, Friends of Trees

“Neighborhood Trees Summer Inspectors: Social Pressure for Tree Health” by Susie Peterson, Neighborhood Trees Specialist, Friends of Trees



Susie Peterson, Neighborhood Trees Specialist, Friends of Trees, discusses a program to educate neighbors on tree care at the 2013 ACTrees Day.

Susie Peterson, Neighborhood Trees Specialist, Friends of Trees, discusses a program to educate neighbors on tree care at the 2013 ACTrees Day.



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  • Thank you. I’m so happy to be here in Pittsburgh, it’s the first time I’ve been here and it feel just like home. There are so many similarities to Portland – I can’t wait to explore. So, I posted this presentation on a blog last Friday, and I’ll be providing a link to it at the end of my talk, so if you’re finding this information helpful don’t feel like you have to write it all down. Know that you can view the slideshow in the future at your leisure.Excited to present on Summer Inspector Program. Been running program as you’ll see it today for 5 years. Basically what we’re doing is utilizing social pressure to encourage better tree health.
  • But more on that later . . .
  • First, a little bit about FOT.
  • Work in Washington and Oregon; Headquarter in Portland with satellite offices in Vancouver, WA and Eugene. Work in 15 cities around the region.
  • Now to the fun stuff . . .
  • Help me learn about my audience here . . .
  • It all started with one seriously polluted river, the Columbia River, which runs right through the middle of the city. Basically sewage and stormwater were combining and overflowing into the river every time we had a significant rain, 5+ events per year. Something had to be done. ----We have pretty much always had a program similar to this, but the Grey-to-Green Initiative has really helped us boost the program to this level. We’re much more effective now in terms of influencing tree owners to care for their trees, and we’re able to collect much more precise data.
  • So, we hold our planting events during the colder months – November through April. Then we use the summer months to monitor those trees just planted. When we hold our planting events we encourage everyone receiving trees to participate in some way. There are several volunteer roles they can choose from. Most people who are inspectors just received trees through our planting program and this is the volunteer role they chose.
  • Tier II & Omega volunteers collect all the same information as Tier I volunteers and more. They measure the caliper of the tree and estimate the height, as well as the canopy width, of the tree.
  • It really doesn’t feel good to get a thumbs down on a report card – very persuasive for change.
  • Biggest problem used to be not getting data back (used to have to mail or bring by office). Google docs has really helped. If you’re not familiar with Google documents, it’s like an Excel spreadsheet online that everyone can access at home. Doing it like this also saves a lot of data entry time on our side. The vast majority of people appreciate being able to enter this information at home and not having to drive by our office to drop it off, or mail it in.
  • Well, in 20 years our urban forest will be healthy and thriving, and more of our strees will look like this.
  • Link to monitoring report, slideshow, and my contact information is on next slide.

“Neighborhood Trees Summer Inspectors: Social Pressure for Tree Health” by Susie Peterson, Neighborhood Trees Specialist, Friends of Trees “Neighborhood Trees Summer Inspectors: Social Pressure for Tree Health” by Susie Peterson, Neighborhood Trees Specialist, Friends of Trees Presentation Transcript

  • SUMMER INSPECTOR PROGRAM Social Pressure for Better Tree Health Friends of Trees Portland, OR
  • Why social pressure for better tree health? We feel that a neighbor is more likely to convince someone to care for their tree than we (or the city, or anyone else) are.
  • Mission Statement To bring people in the Portland-Vancouver and Eugene-Springfield metro areas together to plant and care for city trees and green spaces. View slide
  • Vancouver Began 24 years ago. Non-profit that uses planting trees as a tool to build community.
  • Planting Programs Overview • Neighborhood Trees (street & yard trees): - 7 staff members - About 1,800 volunteers - Over 4,000 large (1.5”+ caliper) trees per season • Green Spaces Initiative (natural area trees & shrubs): - 3 staff members - About 1,700 volunteers - 23,000 smaller trees and shrubs per planting season
  • POLL How many currently have some form of monitoring program for newly planted trees? How many are wanting to start one?
  • How did it get started? Grey-to-Green Initiative • Citizens voted for green infrastructure over gray infrastructure, creating G2G Initiative • Part 1: ‘Big Pipe’ installed underground to hold more stormwater overflow • Part 2: City sets goal to plant 83,000 street trees • FOT bid on and won contract with city to plant 20,000 street trees • Scope of work included developing tree survival monitoring program
  • What is the goal? Provide tree care education to new tree owners so that their trees will: • survive their first growing season • become long-term assets to their community
  • How do we do that? • Mail watering postcard after rains stop (early May) • Educate new tree owners on the best practices of general tree care through conversations and informative door-hangers (train the trainer technique) • Record tree health data
  • Most inspectors just received trees through our planting program the previous year and this is the volunteer role they chose. Inspects 30 trees in their neighborhood. New tree owner receives doorhanger (“report card”) and feels social pressure to better care for tree. Neighbors now know each other. Trained inspector is resource to community.
  • Recruiting Volunteer • Planting volunteers • Internet – website, social media, email/treemail, listserves • Outreach events • Word of mouth • Posters • Yard signs • Tree signs
  • Who are our Summer Inspectors? 250 volunteers per summer Arborists Tree recipients (past and present) Crew Leaders General public
  • MAINLY - Tier I: first year trees (trees inspected one summer only, twice during the summer) Also - Tier II: 15% of trees planted 2 years ago (same trees inspected two summers in a row, once per summer). Measure caliper, height and width. Also - Tier Omega: 15% of trees planted in 2009-10 (same trees inspected annually - to be analyzed over extended period of time, once per summer).
  • Tier I Inspections for 2011-12 Planting Season • Total of 4,782 newly planted trees inspected • 86% new street trees • 12% new yard trees • 51 genera • 134 species • 97% survival rate for newly planted trees
  • Tier II & Tier Omega Inspections for 2011-12 Planting Season • Tier II: 614 trees inspected (90.4% survival rate) • Tier Omega: 473 trees inspected (89.9% survival rate)
  • When: first weekend in June Morning session: classroom portion Afternoon session: inspection route in neighborhood with certified arborist
  • Site Visits - 7 Health Conditions • Site Conditions – Soil moisture – Mulch – Weeds • Tree Health – Bark damage – Broken branches – Suckers – Canopy assessment
  • Doorhangers • 7 health conditions listed • Circle thumbs up for pass • Circle thumbs down for fail • Websites for more information on tree care • Free mulch at our office (arborist donations)
  • Getting data from volunteers Provide link to shared Google document (or mail spreadsheet, or drop off at our office) Inspect twice per summer – separate doc per round: – July 1 (Round 1) – August 15 (Round 2)
  • Uploading Inspection Results • Save Google document as Excel spreadsheet • Customized Access database uploads information from Excel spreadsheet • Point rating system tells us if tree is Good, Ok, Bad or Dead
  • Storage of Data Database allows entry of detailed information such as: • Genus, species, cultivar, stock size, stock type, nursery of origin, date planted, street address, homeowner contact information • Volunteer inspector ratings and notes • Staff can change health ratings and enter their own additional notes • “Replace” checkbox available for any trees that will be replaced the next season
  • What do we do with all this data?
  • Determine why trees are dying: • Neglect • Transplant shock Social Pressure comes to the rescue: – Counterintuitively, trees look better at end of summer – Pressure from neighbor/inspector and doorhanger (report card) to better care for trees
  • Analyze which genus and species are thriving: Genus Qty Dead (Genus) Acer 36 Quercus 19 Magnolia 17 Qty Percent Planted Dead Species Breakdown, (Genus) (Genus) by Cultivar Rocky Mtn Glow 796 4.52% Maple Paperbark Maple Bigleaf Maple Flame Maple 248 7.66% Scarlet Oak Forest Green Oak Crimson Spire Oak Oregon White Oak Swamp White Oak 182 9.34% Elizabeth Magnolia Bracken’s Brown Beauty Lennei Magnolia Butterflies Magnolia Edith Bogue Magnolia Yulan Magnolia Qty Percent Qty Dead Planted Dead (Species) (Species) (Species) 15 13 4 3 9 5 2 1 1 12 309 276 42 83 81 42 38 41 15 47 4.85% 4.71% 9.52% 3.61% 11.11% 11.90% 5.26% 2.43% 6.67% 25.53% 8 2 1 1 1 22 15 19 24 15 36.36% 13.33% 5.26% 4.17% 6.67%
  • Compare tree health/survival between different parts of the city:
  • Analyze which root stocks have highest survival ratings: Root Stock Balled & Burlapped Bare Root Containerized Root Control Bag Unknown Total Planted % of Total Planted Total Dead % of Root Stock Dead 2886 650 818 60.3% 13.5% 17.1% 92 21 22 3.1% 3.2% 2.6% 330 98 6.9% 2% 8 3 2.4% 3.0% Table 7 – Root Stock of Trees - Comparison of Root Stock of Dead Trees for PS-12
  • Answer questions that will guide your program, such as: Is a person more likely to care for their tree if they pay for it? (does not appear to be so) Is a person more likely to care for their tree if they help plant it? (appears to be so) Participation Qty Paid for Trees, Signed up to Volunteer 86 Paid for Trees, Did Not Plant 12 Free Trees, Signed up to Volunteer 21 Free Trees, Did Not Plant 19 Free Trees, No Participation, No Tree Choice 8 Total 146 Trees Rated "Dead" % of Qty of Total % of Total Dead Planted Planted 58.9% 3053 2.8% 8.2% 473 2.5% 14.4% 626 3.4% 13.0% 447 4.3% 5.5% Table 13 – Tree Mortality and Treecipient Involvement 183 4782 4.4%
  • Monitoring Report
  • • Submit with grant requests to show success of our planting program • Helps us market our planting program to future participants • The information helps our program and other tree programs in the region
  • Monitoring Report Addresses: • Condition & survival of newly planted trees • Genus & species composition • Performance trends based on genus, species & cultivar • Assessment of planting conditions (stock type, time of year planted, location of planting ) • Condition & survival of 15% of 2 year-old trees (Tier II) • Condition & survival of 15% of 2009-10 trees (Tier Omega)
  • In 20 Years • Will have collected large amount of data on trees planted through our program • Combine our tree data with other tree data collected by city, iTrees, and others • Better understanding of species survival • Handheld technology to collect data • Educated citizens who value trees and know how to care for them
  • To view our Monitoring Report, or view this slideshow in closer detail, check out our blog posting here: http://friendsoftrees.org/blog/2013/11/01/friends-of-trees-visits-pittsburgh Susie Peterson Neighborhood Trees Specialist susiep@friendsoftrees.org 503-467-2516