How much is a tree really worth? Upstate kids are discovering by taking part in a tree-tagging program.
Published April 27, 2014 in The Greenville News
By Charles Sowell, Special to The Greenville News
How much is a tree really worth? More than just board feet of lumber and more than merely making oxygen for humans to breathe, as children across the Upstate are discovering by taking part in Upstate Forever’s tree-tagging program.
Trees also filter the air and water, removing pollutants that would cost humankind more than mere dollars.
Gina Varat, education coordinator at the Conestee Nature Preserve, said trees act as a natural filter for air and water. They are a big part of the recovery of the Reedy River and help mitigate carbon loading in the atmosphere.
Today kids are finding evidence of that — the hard scientific kind — as they learn how the planet cleanses itself naturally.
They visit the woods, led by their teachers and experts from places like Conestee to identify tree species, measure the plant and calculate the benefits of each tree based on a set of scientific criteria. Then they figure out each tree’s dollar value to mankind each and every year.
The results are different for each tree species and size. Once the results are calculated, the young students post the results on a temporary sign hanging from the trunk.
Tree-tagging programs are in operation in each of the Upstate’s 10 counties. Greenville and Spartanburg have the most active, with five to 10 schools taking part. In the smaller counties, college students take part, said Katie Premo, clean air and water associate with Upstate Forever.
“The kids learn the correct way to gather data in the wild and then bring it back to the school, where they put together the information and draw conclusions from it,” said Scottie Duaddell, a fourth-grade teacher at Christ Church Episcopal Lower School.
The young investigators learn to do things like calculate diameter of the tree based on measurements at the trunk, she said. It teaches them lots about math and data.
Premo said this year’s program is funded with a $5,000 grant from TD Charitable Foundation and is designed to educate the public as well as teach children about natural science and the benefits of trees.
The students from Christ Church showed up at Conestee in a caravan of cars driven by mothers. Varat told the students what they’d be doing that day, and Duaddell passed out signs to hang on each tree.
The students planned to do some birdwatching during the day as well. After getting their school binoculars set up, they hit the trail.
In the woods the students acted just as one would expect, like fourth-graders, but they seemed very proud of their work, too, learning lessons about nature that many adults haven’t even thought about.