By Brett McKay
Do you remember where the tree you took home from school in first grade is planted?
For more than 60 years, the government of Alberta has distributed nearly 70,000 tree saplings to Grade 1 students during Alberta Forest Week. Now two local tree enthusiasts want your help to map those generations of lodgepole pine and white spruce.
"A lot of people can say where they planted the Grade 1 tree or know somebody who's planted a Grade 1 tree. We thought it would be interesting to map them see if we can get a list of as many of them as possible (and) any kind of stories or photographs that go along with it," said Dustin Bajer, co-creator of the Grade 1 Tree Registry.
The registry uses Google Maps and Google Forms to collect submissions, opting for tools that many people are already familiar with to make it as easy as possible to put their own tree on the map. The map launched in July, and already includes trees from Edmonton, St. Albert, Parkland County, and as far away as Victoria, B.C. Some are only one year old; the oldest so far is 66 years old.
The tree registry grew out of a shared love of documenting, mapping, and protecting local trees. Grade 8 student Joshua Kirsch, who started a project to map heritage trees in the Edmonton region, contacted the city to see how he could ensure an old tree on the west end wouldn't be disturbed by nearby LRT line construction.
"It's a huge tree, one of the largest that I know of in the city. And I was interested in trying to learn how to protect it," Kirsch said. The city forwarded Kirsch's e-mail to Bajer.
"I don't work for the city," Bajer clarified. "I just also have an interesting heritage tree. So, they were like, 'Hey, here's a kid who also likes trees as much as you do.'"