Tree Project

Join WBUR on their Tree Capturing Project

If you want to learn more about the work your tree is doing to capture carbon and store it, cool your air and clean it, too – here’s how. You’ll need: a smartphone and tape measure.

  1. Open the My Tree tool created by the US Forest Service:

  2. Put in the location of your tree.

  3. For Project or Group Name you can say WBUR Trees or skip this step

  4. Select the type of tree (new, existing, or skip this step)

  5. Select the species. Just oak or maple is fine. If you have no idea or want the exact species, take a picture of one of the tree’s leaves and upload it to the app “Leafsnap.”

  6. Next, you’ll need to put in the condition of your tree. A guess is fine, we aren’t arborists.

  7. Wrap your tape measure around the trunk of the tree and add that number, in inches

  8. Answer a few more questions about how much sun your tree gets, how far it is from a building, give your tree a name — and you’re done. (Note, if your tree is close to a building, My Tree may ask the direction of the tree in relation to that building. You can use the compass on your smartphone to figure this out, or decide if it’s north or south of your house by thinking about where the sun sets.

“When you look at a tree, and you appreciate its beauty, it’s also amazing what else trees are doing, for the environment, for your health, your comfort and your well-being,” says Alexis Ellis who leads the U.S. Forest Service i-Tree team. “It’s great to understand that. If you don’t, it’s fine that you’re enjoying the trees around you but there is a whole other element to the trees.”  

Here are three ways to think about your tree’s results:

  1. Check out the amount of ozone your tree pulled from the air. A couple of ounces doesn’t sound like much but exposure to even tiny amounts of ozone, commonly called “smog,” can be harmful. Ozone is usually measured in parts per billion (ppb) and the EPA limit is 70. So your tree is doing a lot of cleaning for you and your neighbors!

  2. Take a look at the amount of carbon dioxide your tree helped avoid by cooling your home. A standard window air conditioner, running eight hours a day for more than half of the year, produces more than 3,000 pounds of CO2 annually.

  3. At the bottom of your page, you’ll find the lifetime CO2 total for your tree. To put this in perspective, the average car emits 20 pounds of CO2 with every gallon of gas burned.

If you want to share what you find and any reactions, send those to Meghan too ( with the subject line “tree project.” You can also send a photo (horizontal, please).

Thanks for taking the time to highlight the value of your tree.