Savannah, GA. (WiredPRNews.com). Technology may have become more ubiquitous than trees, but nature lovers and activists don’t have to choose between the two, thanks to the growing popularity of social media apps and communities on the subject of trees.
Trees and plants have proven to be social media favorites, with popular web communities based not only around trees and species, but even around individual shrubs such as a Pothos plant, a rare corpse flower, and most recently, a social media savvy, 100-year-old ‘Talking Tree’.
“Young people today are connected to nature in a very new way,” says Rachel Simms of Georgia Tree Services. “It’s much more information-based, it’s scientific and interactive. It’s a different way of knowing and sharing than previous generations were used to.”
In addition to web communities, Smartphone users have a number of tree-related applications at their fingertips. While the TreeBook app is popular among users unfamiliar with tree identification, the Audobon Tree Guide application is a more advanced option for people seeking to identify and learn more about trees based on numerous easily identifiable markers.
“Trees Near You,” an innovative iPhone app released earlier this year, mapped all of the more than 500,000 trees on New York City sidewalks, allowing users to know more about every tree on a given block, including the monetary and environmental benefits of each.
With new media, information traffic no longer flows one way. Social media also revealed the damage done to New York trees by a storm in September, with city residents using their cell phones to take pictures of the storm and its aftermath, and then sharing them through Facebook, Twitter and news blogs.
“The important thing to remember is that all this knowledge should translate to something real,” remarks Simms. “We know more about trees today than we ever did before, but that should also mean caring for the ones in our own backyards.”?
Soon, tree lovers might be able to make a difference to research with their phones. Scientists at the Smithsonian, Columbia University and the University of Maryland are working on an application to automatically identify the species of a tree based on the photo of a leaf. Their goal is to use the data supplied by thousands of tree enthusiasts to study climate change and biodiversity loss.