Coconut Grove is full of enormous trees that provide a lush tropical canopy, making it unique among South Florida neighborhoods. Nevertheless, neighborhoods are developing rapidly. Concerns have risen around the future of the verdant landscape.
A new research project from the Director of the International Center for Tropical Botany, Chris Baraloto, could bring some clarity. The initiative – Grove ReLeaf – has the ambitious goal of mapping every tree in the Grove and calculating the “services” provided by each of those trees. For example, the money saved by a tree’s cooling effects or root systems that combat sea-level rise. The data will be aggregated into an interactive application that users can navigate as they go through their neighborhood.
Ultimately, the project is meant to help the general public get involved by taking simple measurements themselves. Baraloto told WLRN he wants people to use it as a tool to connect them to their surroundings, especially when it comes to landmark trees that can be found in multiple neighborhoods.
Once fully integrated, the data will better inform city leaders on future decisions about trees in the community. After the Grove, Baraloto hopes to have the project become the epicenter of conversations about tree policy and evolve throughout the city.