Lisa Porter and Cameron ProctorProfessors Lisa Porter and Cameron Proctor handed out saplings to Amherstburg residents in exchange for the right to monitor how the trees fare after they are planted.

Scientists to monitor health of Earth Day trees

Some trees planted in Amherstburg for Earth Day will be getting special attention from UWindsor researchers.

Scientists partnered with Thrive Amherstburg and the town of Amherstburg for this year’s tree planting on April 23, called Essex Power’s Map and Grow Program. Participating residents got a free sapling if they agreed to let researchers plot where the trees are planted and monitor their continued health to ensure they prosper.

“We are working together to create opportunities for community-based engagement,” says professor Cameron Proctor of the School of the Environment. “We are using the best available science to offer sustainable alternatives and get the community involved at the same time.”

Residents chose from eight species of tree:

  • American sycamore – Platanus occidentalis
  • Red maple – Acer rubrum
  • Black cherry – Prunus serotina
  • Common hackberry – Celtis occidentalis
  • Red oak – Quercus rubra
  • Tulip tree – Liriodendron tulipifera
  • Basswood – Tilia americana
  • Autumn fantasy maple – Acer x freemanii

“Earth Day launched the project and set us up to have a conversation on choosing the appropriate tree for their property and collect scientific information,” says Dr. Proctor.

“We will be collecting baseline data such as ‘is there a difference in the tree mortality in various locations’ and I’ll have students go out to take soil samples and tree samples which we’ll use to create a database that can be used for future projects going forward.”

He says eventually he would like to send students out to Amherstburg to map the overall tree cover.

“They would use remote sensing and satellites to map out how the tree cover has declined and how it will improve, because of our Earth Day efforts, during the next 10 years,” says Proctor.

“This will tell us where we need more trees and if the trees provided went to where they are needed, making sure this is helping and utilizing the limited dollars that the town has in the most effective way possible.”

Two students will be hired this summer to monitor the health of these trees. Proctor says this also provides a chance for students to get involved in the community.

“As a liaison for the student environmental group the Jull Earth and Environmental Club, this is a great opportunity to get students involved in a positive way and provide training opportunities for them.”