A new web portal enabling citizens in the Coorong and Tatiara regions of South Australia to document the health of their local trees was recently launched. This portal, called South Australia Tree Watch, was developed in collaboration with researchers from FedUni’s Faculty of Science and Technology, with support from project partners the Coorong District Council, Tatiara Council and the Coorong Tatiara Local Action Plan.
The Coorong and Tatiara regions are located south east of Adelaide, incorporating the Murray River and other significant environmental sites, including Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert. The region has experienced substantial environmental challenges in recent years, including dryland salinity and poor tree health. The region’s trees have become iconic features of the natural and agricultural landscape however many of the trees are experiencing significant health problems with some trees already dying, or showing significant signs of stress and poor health.
South Australia Tree Watch will enable local citizens to assess and document the health of trees in their region. These details are uploaded directly onto the portal using the interactive map and custom-built forms. The data captured will be used by the research team to develop spatially-explicit models of drivers of tree health decline, which will be used to formulate management plans to improve tree health across the region. The information supplied by the community will ultimately enable local councils, environmental management organisations and community groups to better understand and identify the symptoms of sick trees, contributing broadly to an understanding of the wider issues associated with tree decline.
The South Australian Tree Watch research was led by Nick Schultz and Megan Good from FedUni’s Faculty of Science and Technology. CeRDI, under the leadership of Birgita Hansen, contributed to the portal’s development with the technology features, including the data entry forms and mapping interface created by Peter Plucinski and Craig Briody. In commenting on the new portal, Birgita described its main objective: “This site will essentially enable crowd-sourcing observations on tree health from south-eastern South Australia. It will build a map of symptoms with which to undertake a spatial analysis of probable causes of tree health decline in the region. The focus of the site is the map portal, where community members (particularly farmers) can add their observations of tree health”.
South Australia Tree Watch Portal: www.satreewatch.com.au