Home Forest

Cultivating the Citizenship of Trees

Metro Vancouver visitors always talk about our trees – about how they make our city so green.  With the Home Forest projects our trees will talk back.  The project is a grassroots, data-driven way to understand and grow this invaluable asset.  The root of Home Forest is an interactive, dynamic map of every single urban tree in our region, making it possible for each one to be treated as a contributing citizen.  Home Forest will help urban residents to be stewards of their neighborhood trees, and help municipalities to track pests, diseases and plantings.  The Home Forest concept has been proven in other leading cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco as shown below, making it overdue for a Metro Vancouver adaptation.


KEYWORDS:  citizen engagement, trees, urban forest, citizen science, urban planning
AUDIENCE:   Residents and groups dedicated to the diversity, beauty and benefits of our urban forests.
PARTNER/HOST:   TBD (possibly Metro Vancouver)
PARTICIPANTS:  Communities, schools, societies, organizations and residents.
PROJECT LEAD:  TBD (currently Mike Blackstock, Urban Opus)
PROJECT STATUS:  Ready to be seeded into Metro Vancouver

Urban Opus Rationale

Home Forest aims to be a landmark of regional sustainability and a showcase for what can been achieved with a trusted data brokerage.  The project is an important demonstration of participatory sensing and the value of citizen data streams.  As with the complexity of a natural ecosystem, the broader benefits of Home Forest will be realized though concerted and serendipitous meshing of open and proprietary data streams in the Urban Opus Datahub.
Urban trees have many proven benefits to community. Home Forest is way to employ citizen data to quantify and amplify those benefits, including for shade, air quality, stormwater runoff, property values, energy conservation, beautification and citizen wellbeing. Metro Vancouver currently has no way to appreciate the value of these benefits on their own, nor to leverage them against vital aspects of urban infrastructure and community development. While governments often have an inventory of the trees they manage, these data can be out of date, or inaccurate, and will not include information about trees planted by individuals or other organizations in the community. Open citizen engagement is the only feasible solution.

Home Forest will use the Open Tree Map inventorying platform to enable individuals, organizations, and governments in the region to contribute collaboratively. Unlike other street trees project such as kitsTreeMap and Sense Tecnic’s Street Trees. Home Forest will unify government and crowdsourced tree information from Metro Vancouver municipalities, parks, individuals and organizations, making it available on the Urban Opus Datahub as well as an instance of Open Tree Maps platform for use by anyone interested in urban forests.

The Home Forest system will provide a mobile web application, native applications for Android and iOS as well as a web site with functionality including:

  • Search for trees by species, location, or advanced filters such as diameter, date planted, or tree characteristics
  • Add trees individually or load tree datasets to the system
  • Edit and add information about existing tree records including species name, location, height, plot size and type, conditions, actions needed, funding sources, data owner
  • Upload tree photos
  • Export tree lists as KML or CSV files
  • Automatically calculate ecosystem benefits (greenhouse gas, water, energy, air quality)

Activation Path
The Home Forest app can be deployed within six (6) months:

  • Identification of Partner/Host organization
  • Clarification of region-specific requirements
  • Identification of development partner
  • Prototype implementation and testing
  • Theming and construction
  • Alpha-level app deployment


About Urban Opus
Urban Opus is Canada’s first ‘smart city’ industry cluster. The non-profit consortium serves as trusted broker for innovative projects and organizations seeking to employ data to enhance the urban experience. In great cities of the world, the consummate wellbeing of people and communities is being inspired by data. Join us to make that happen! Home Forest aims to be a landmark of regional sustainability and a showcase for what can been achieved with a trusted data brokerage. The project is an important demonstration of participatory sensing and the value of citizen data streams. As with the complexity of a natural ecos
Contact: David Vogt, Executive Director, Urban Opus – david.vogt@urbanopus.net