Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension, a program that utilizes students' experience and knowledge to improve the quality of life of people and their communities, performed a street tree inventory study in the village of Manlius Sept. 23 and Sept. 24.
Cornell Cooperative Extension conducts research on the benefits of urban forests and works with county educators to extend information to the community on how to manage and sustain a forest, Steve Harris, extension educator for urban and community forestry, said. "A lot of people think that, 'Oh trees, oh they're nice but not really essential' but now we quantify the real ecological function these trees provide for the community," Nina Bassuk, professor of urban horticulture at Cornell University, said.
Five years ago, Cornell Cooperative Extension founded Student, Weekend, Arborist, Team (SWAT). Harris and Bassuk train students from Cornell University to record tree information using hand held computers and GPS units to get the latitude and longitude, in case the tree needs to be found again later. They come to small communities on the weekends, and in groups of two, do inventory of trees in one or two days. Once the study is complete, they give the town the information they collected in order to encourage communities to proactively manage their urban tree resources. Communities can conclude from the information whether or not they have enough trees, if the trees they have are healthy, where to plant new trees and if they need a larger variety of trees.
Communities can benefit greatly from urban for ests. Forests aid with cooling, wind reduction, increase property value and storm order, Bassuk said.
"For example, we know that there is a difference in how much this business will spend on heating and cooling costs with and without shade," Harris said. "They got this black parking lot, which on a 90 degree day is going to be 115 degrees, and if it's hotter out here, that means they have to expend more energy to keep it cool in there." If trees are put in the right place to avoid artificially heating the pavement, companies can benefit from their shade.