Tree Signage Gets Digital Update in Union County, N.J.

To spur public interest, trees in one New Jersey park got new signs with QR codes that link to an online field guide.

by / October 26, 2012

Arboretum tours in New Jersey just went high-tech. reported, it's still common to see brown or green plaques with information about various trees and plants in parks around the country, but in Union County, N.J., visitors to one park can use their smartphones to learn more about trees. Some trees around Lenape Park’s mile-and-a-half trail, which is part of the East Coast Greenway, received signs that each have the name of the tree and a QR code that links to a smartphone and tablet application.

The application, called Leafsnap, was developed by the Smithsonian Institute and has been downloaded more than 1 million times and has about 500,000 active users. In addition to QR codes, the program's main function is to allow users to snap photographs of leaves and discover what type of tree the leaf belongs to.

"We are also hoping that this convergence of nature and technology may spur more interest from children," said Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski. "All you have to do is look at young people today and that phone seems to always be in their hands. This is a way to get them to learn more about the environment around them through a device that has become a major part of their lives."

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