Online service maps trees on campus

Aimee Lastrella

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CSUN’s Institute of Sustainability recently gave the Internet a whole lot more information, about 3,600 trees-worth full.

Last week, the Institute for Sustainability released online its ongoing project of a tree atlas on campus.

“The last tree atlas was done in 1989,” said Helen Cox, associate geography professor. ”It was pre-earthquake and I felt that it needed to be updated.”

The digital atlas was first just a measurement project for Cox and her students, she said. But soon it took a life of its own.

“There are about 3,600 trees on the south end of campus,” Cox said. “Trees help with our carbon footprint, but I wanted to see how much it really effected the footprint.”

Cox said the purpose of the project was to build a curiosity among the CSUN community.

“I hope that people will go online and learn about the trees and their environmental benefits and advantages,” Cox said. “And maybe they’ll go online get the information and plant some of the trees in their own yard.”

Another goal of the online tree atlas was to share the positive effects that these trees have on the environment in hopes that more trees will be added to the campus and the community.

“Trees sequester carbon dioxide from the environment,” Cox said. “But they also remove pollutants in the atmosphere as well as make the campus pleasant and beautiful.”

The virtual tour uses Google Earth and almost every single tree on campus is marked along the map.

“I really hope that with these numbers tracked down in the students findings that the organization will plant more trees,” Cox said.

After clicking the colored tabbed tree, the reader will see the tree’s diameter, species code, CO2 sequestered by kg per year, scientific name and the common name of the tree.

“Each tree on campus sequesters about 90 pounds of CO2 emissions,” Cox said. “With about 3,600 trees on the campus, we are cutting about 150 tons of CO2 each year.”

Not many students have heard about the Institute of Sustainablity’s Tree Tour, but many feel like it is a useful tool to the campus and community.

“I wouldn’t feel compelled to use it online,” said Adam Vitello, 22, a history major. “Although I feel that it could serve as a useful resource for information of our campus and it’s involvement with being environmentally-aware and what not. And with information like that, it’s definitely something worth knowing about your immediate community.”

Alexis Retig, 20, a recreation tourism management major agreed.

“I didn’t hear about the online tree tour at all,” Retig said. “I don’t think I would use the database, but I do think that it is a useful tool for those truly interested in the foliage on campus.”

Vitello added after seeing the online tree tour that he had no idea that there were that many trees on campus.

“There were little blue dots everywhere,” Vitello said.