City of San Francisco plots its urban forest using open source mapping...

City of San Francisco plots its urban forest using open source mapping technology


San Rafael, USA, 8 March 2007 – The City and County of San Francisco has announced the development and launch of a city-wide, dynamic online map of the city’s growing number of trees.

Autodesk, Inc., through the Mayor’s Office of City Greening, worked together with the City’s Bureau of Urban Forestry (BUF) and Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), a local San Francisco non-profit organization, to develop this Urban Forest Mapping System, which will serve as a central dynamic resource where San Francisco residents, community groups and city employees can update and share information about new or existing street trees that form part of the city’s urban forest.

Local government agencies, FUF and the community will all see benefits from this collaborative mapping effort. The Bureau of Urban Forestry and FUF now have a vital, technology-based tool for tree maintenance and management, enabling urban forest managers to inventory and map existing, future and past tree locations.

City officials can also quickly and accurately calculate costs and benefits of the urban forest as a whole or in specific areas, allowing the city to strategically focus support for tree planting and maintenance in certain areas of need. The system will also foster greater community involvement and awareness of the urban forest – citizens can go online to access tree data, report problems, upload personal tree information, such as photos and stories, and add information about privately owned trees to the city inventory.

“The City of San Francisco is dedicated to being one of the greenest cities on the planet. This Urban Forest Mapping Project is an exciting opportunity for our community to create an online forum to become more actively involved in the greening of the city,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Not only will this technology make the city’s maintenance procedures easier to perform, but our citizens now have a place where they can come together to make a difference to the urban landscape.”

BUF and FUF previously managed forest data in separate systems, both heavily reliant on paper-based maps, which prevented the organizations from easily sharing information. The new Urban Forest Management system synchronizes existing data from both groups in a comprehensive database. Both groups can now easily access and update the information, thus facilitating communications and streamlining previously time-intensive workflows. The data from this system is published and maintained via Autodesk MapGuide Open Source technology, which Autodesk released into the open source community last year.

“Using a blended model of open source and commercial technologies, we were able to create a system that met all our development and operations needs. Autodesk MapGuide Studio’s authoring capabilities easily integrate with the Microsoft platform, and since city IT workers already use Microsoft, the learning curve was minimal. With MapGuide Open Source, we receive an enhanced level of collaboration and support for data sources and geocoding from the open source development community beyond what commercial vendors offer,” said Greg Braswell, IT and GIS manager of the San Francisco Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering.

“Autodesk is excited to be a part of this program that will raise the public’s awareness of the trees that make the City of San Francisco a green city,” said Lisa Campbell, Autodesk’s Vice President of Geospatial Solutions. “We hope this project with the city of San Francisco will become a model for other cities around the world to manage and preserve their urban forests.”

“Part of what makes this project unique and amazing is that three very different organizations have come together and created a tool that serves to benefit the entire community – a rare situation,” says Amber Bieg, development officer for FUF. “Not very often do a non-profit organization, a government agency and a private corporation partner to create a tool for the community.”

The San Francisco Urban Forest Mapping Project is located at For more information, visit

– About Friends of the Urban Forest
Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is a non-profit organization committed to the belief that trees are a critical element of a livable urban environment. Since 1981, FUF has offered financial, technical, and practical assistance to individuals and neighborhood groups who want to plant and care for trees.

– About the City & County of San Francisco, Department of Public Works
The Department of Public Works provides services ranging from cleaning, repairing and maintaining city streets and sewers to greening the city’s landscape, to designing and managing construction of public facilities.

– About the City & County of San Francisco, Mayor’s Office of City Greening
The Mayor’s Office of City Greening leads San Francisco’s efforts in the physical greening of the public realm. The Greening Office, a component of the Mayor’s Livable City Initiative, focuses on the quality of our streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas. With more than one-quarter of the City’s total land devoted to public rights-of-way, greening plans and projects offer unique opportunities to improve the lives of all San Franciscans.