This past February and March was the third consecutive year that TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, was asked to teach a portion of the NREM 301 lab course at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) in the Natural Resources Environmental Management (NREM) department. This is an annual partnership with the university that involves junior and senior students studying concepts in the environmental/conservation field through multiple classes that are over five hours in duration.
The class itself focuses on the environmental, ecological, cultural, psychological and monetary benefits that trees provide and how each can be quantified through the use of data collection around the UHM campus and software such as the National Tree Benefit Calculator and i-Tree, which were created by the US Forest Service.
Due to Myles' experience collecting data for TOC’s Exceptional Tree map and also helping to initiate Hawaii’s first Citizen Forester program, these same skills are conveyed to the students so that they can gather metrics such as: height, diameter, crown spread, aesthetic value, cultural value, etc., in addition to obtaining the GPS coordinates of each tree.
All of this data is then inputted into the UH Manoa Plant Map so that the campus’ trees have baseline data to refer to and helps to improve this interactive resource that highlights the UHM campus has been awarded status as an accredited arboretum for its collection showcasing plants from Hawai‘i, the Pacific, and across the tropics, including a number of truly exceptional trees, such as the largest Baobab in the United States.
With the overwhelmingly positive feedback provided by the students and professors each year this class has been taught, TOC is looking forward to once again teaching this lab during the Spring 2020 semester. In doing so, this will help teach the next generation of environmental stewards about the many benefits that trees provide, how to quantify these aspects and then convey them to the public in an informative and meaningful way.
Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.