MapCarte 354/365: Urban Forest by OOM Creative, 2013


Click image to view the web map.

Melbourne’s Urban Forest Visual by OOM Creative is simply conceived and well built. There’s nothing pretentious or bloated about the map and it’s clean and elegant approach to mapping every tree in the city of Melbourne is a template for the use of modern web maps. The web site houses the embeded map so there’s no going to a separate site. The User interface is uncluttered and intuitive. The overall design builds on a limited but effective colour palette that repeats across the map and the site itself. The use of a dark basemap and bright colours creates a pleasing contrast between background and detail.

The map shows the location of every tree recorded by a census and categorises them by genus using different shapes. Almost immediately, this simple act of making the effort to categorise point data and show them differently takes this web map further than many similar maps that might just show the presence of a phenomena or not. Binary web maps are common (things exist and are shown, or they don’t). OOM Creative have thought cartographically about the work. Further, the symbols are coloured to indicate the remaining lifespan of the tree. Immediately, you can see where streets are populated with the same genus of tree creating a particular uniform scene, or perhaps where their is a rich variety. It’s easy to spot the botanical gardens! It’s also easy to see the spatial pattern of the health of trees and where resources perhaps need to be targeted for remediation or replanting in the coming years.

You can modify the map view to focus on the detail at a precinct level and also select a subset of the data to show trees by age or by use. The map forms part of a larger story about the Melbourne canopy and conservation efforts. It’s an educational web site of which the map forms a core component. Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the map is, in addition to clicking on each tree to reveal information, you can ’email a tree’. Designed as a way for people to report tree health, damage or other information, it has also been used as a simple way of communication to express to a tree how important it has been, or any range of other eccentric human reactions. In this sense the map provides a fascinating way for people to interact with their environment in an emotional way.

You can see the web map as part of the Urban Forest Visual web site here.

MapCarte 195/365: Central Park Tree Map by Ken Chaya and Edward Sibley Barnard, 2011


There’s nothing quite as absurd as a map-maker intent on capturing some phenomena to a ridiculous level of detail on a map. There’s something particularly impressive about such dedication and the search to create that perfect record that can be unsurpassed. Maps have always been seen as providing accuracy, precision and a documentary source so it’s no wonder that we can find all manner of individuals who take it upon themselves to dedicate huge numbers of hours to their cause.

Edward Barnard and Ken Chaya are responsible for perhaps the most detailed map of trees ever produced. As a project that began innoccuously in 2008, it soon grew to become a tireless survey of every tree in Central Park, New York City. The resulting map is not just a record of the nearly 20,000 specimens but a beautifully detailed cartographic product.


The map does not constrain itself to a standard paper size and is produced in the same aspect ratio as the park itself on a long thin vertical strip. It would have been easy to splice it up into sections and run them parallel on a standard landscape page but the impact of using a non-standard page size is worthwhile. The colours are vibrant and each tree species is given its own mimetic planimetric symbol. This adds colour, texture and shape to the map to give a sense of the distribution, size and type of trees.

Some elements of the park’s physical structure are presented in obliquely which provides anchor points and recongnisable places. These work well to create some sense of depth in the work.



Overall a beautiful map and testament to the dedication and perseverance of two men and their quest to make a map that had never been made.

More details at the author’s web site here.