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September 21, 2018

Riverside Cemetery Partners with SUNY ESF on GIS and Google Earth Tree Mapping


OSWEGO, NY – Riverside Cemetery now has a complete GIS and Google Earth Mapping inventory of its tree and shrub populations thanks to Eddie Bevilacqua, Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator at the State University of New York (SUNY) of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Andy Nelson, retired professor of SUNY Oswego and former director of Rice Creek Field Station and Riverside board member (left), is shown with Fran Loomis, superintendent of Riverside Cemetery, and Eddie Bevilacqua, professor of Tree Managements and Statistics at SUNY of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Bevilacqua and two of his students, Ella Gray (MS student in Forest Resource Management) and Amanda Miller (MS student in Environmental Science), converted Andy Nelson’s tree inventory document to Geographic Information Systems and Google Earth mapping to provide Riverside with a state-of-the-art mapping of said inventory needed to identify tree location, species and condition.

Nelson is a retired professor of SUNY Oswego, former director of Rice Creek Field Station and Riverside Board member.

“Community service is a priority for the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry,” Bevilacqua said. “And since we have the expertise on campus to provide geospatial services to local organizations that would otherwise not be able to benefit from such technologies, it seemed like a relatively simple and easy decision to make.

Geographic Information Systems is a discipline devoted to the acquisition, storage, management, analysis and visualization of spatial data which lends the ability to integrate and analyze both spatial and non-spatial information implemented in mapping, planning and decision-making.

The GIS program’s main function is to provide a basis for planning the removal of aged and/or damaged specimens and developing a schedule for replacement, according to a report by Nelson.

It also provides background for which species Riverside should continue to use in the future and which species should be avoided.

According to Bevilacqua, they were provided with 23 maps of the cemetery and a spreadsheet file with multiple worksheets for different sections of the cemetery.

Worksheets for individual cemetery sections needed to be merged into a single worksheet for the cemetery, and the condition information needed to be separated into two attributes: age class and health.

“The individual tree records in the spreadsheet file was then joined to the tree geospatial dataset,” Bevilacqua said. “The geospatial dataset was used within the GIS software to visualize cemetery tree population according to either species, age and/or health. The dataset was also exported to a file format that could be used and visualized on the web with Google Maps.”

According to Bevilacqua the georeferencing of the scanned maps, obtaining coordinates for individual trees and joining to the newly formatted spreadsheet file took approximately 50 person-hours.

The bulk of the program includes maps of each area of the cemetery paired with tables showing the relative size and age and current condition of each specimen found in the area followed by a summary table with the number of specimens of each species found in the area.

The map divides the cemetery into areas numbered consecutively, designated as old or new and shows the position and relationship between the areas for the east and west portions respectively. Each specimen is numbered with its position noted on the map and is identified by a two or three letter code.

The codes are presented toward the beginning of the program first in order by code, then the English plant name and finally the technical botanical name of each species.

The program also provides a summary of dead and/or damaged species with recommendations regarding importance for removal, a summary of recommendation of a selection of species to be used in future plantings, tables showing the number and kinds of species found in each area and the total number in the cemetery and a list of all species found in the cemetery with notes on their abundance, natural origin and characteristics and recommendations regarding future use.

Riverside Cemetery is located just outside the city of Oswego, on County Route 57. The cemetery is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.

For additional information on the Friends of Riverside Cemetery please contact (315) 343-7691 or email [email protected]

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