COMPUTERS AND TREE CARE
What is this about?
If I like the way things are now, why should I bother?
- As in so many other areas, tree care is being revolutionized by
the widespread availability of personal computers.
- Until recently, high prices and long learning times restricted computer
access to a small group.
- Now, personal computers are easily affordable and accessible, and
programs are becoming user-friendly.
What are some important areas to look at?
- Easier and faster. Computers access large amounts of information
easily, and handle repetitive functions, large data, and complicated tasks
much better than people.
- Cheaper. Time is money. When you can find out quickly things
like what condition a tree is in, whether it is in the ROW, or what diseases
it is susceptible to, you save money.
- More professional. The more information you can easily access
and incorporate into your daily work, the better you come off, whether you
are in the private or the public sphere.
- Generic. Spreadsheets like Excel® or databases like Access®
(Microsoft) are shipped
now with most new computers, and have many uses. They are easily adapted
to make simple but powerful inventories, for
instance, where they can keep track of a tree’s location, health, history,
- Dedicated. Proprietary tree management programs such
as TreeKeeper® (Davey
Tree Co.) or Tree Manager® (ACRT) offer sophisticated data collection,
analysis, and reporting possibilities. Programs such as City Green®
(American Forests) can measure ecological
factors and calculate tree worth.
This is the hot area! Small handheld computers like Palm's
Pilot® or Compaq's iPaq® are so popular, reasonable,
and powerful that companies are looking for ways to integrate them into
outdoor work. The are especially useful for inventories, see "Tree
Inventories in the Palm of your hand" but can also make detailed data
(on pests, for instance) easily available in the field.
How do I get more information? Click on any of the websites
listed above! For other information, advice and help on this topic,
call offices of your State Urban Forestry Coordinator or University Extension
service, or visit urban forestry web sites.
- Professionals. Terrific support can be found at websites
of national (e.g., www.natlarb.com )
and professional organizations (e.g., natlarb.com
or www.isa-arbor.com), as well as
scientific (e.g., treefail.ucdavis.edu)
and municipal groups (e.g., urban-forestry.com).
The ability to see pest information online (e.g., Branching Out)
makes the tree professional's job significantly easier. There are also
excellent professional discussion groups, both private (e.g., tree-tech.com) and public (e.g., treelink.org/forum/). Technical
species information can be found on the Silvics,
FEIS or Plants sites.
- Homeowners. There is great stuff at websites of arboretums
(e.g., mortonarb.org or ars-grin.gov/ars/Beltsville/na),
consumer groups (e.g., arborday.org
or amfor.org), and even cities (e.g.,
treesny.com). The Tree Link site is an excellent place to begin
looking for information on community forestry.