Tree Tech

They may not move, but trees need tracking just the same.

Luckily, arborist Jim Donegan lost a long-held contract to care for the trees on a Fairfax County property. “Kind of out of desperation,” Donegan says, he went searching for a new business plan in 2017.

He discovered that technology was improving how arborists tracked tree health. Intrigued, Donegan, who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, went searching for the leader in tree-tracking tech and found Chris Conlee, a California-based arborist who perfected a system that merges geo-locating hardware with inventory-tracking software.

Donegan and his team now create GPS- based tree inventories for homeowners’ associations and estates in Loudoun County’s horse country and he recently completed an inventory and maintenance plan for more than 100 trees at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens south of Leesburg.

Using GPS geo-locating, satellite mapping, and his years of experience gauging tree age and health, Donegan creates a customized database of all trees on a property, including aerial and tree-by-tree views with critical tree stats, tree type, and a health score. Armed with that information, he and the property owner or manager create a multi-year healthcare plan for the trees.

A high-tech tree inventory is particularly handy in emergencies. “After a storm, someone can call me, give me a number—tree 5668 or whatever it is—and I’ll know exactly where it is, what kind it is, and how best to handle the situation,” he says.

It also allows Donegan and his clients to proactively identify damage from insects or blight. “Having a maintenance plan and a good idea of the location and type of every tree is going to become even more important once the spotted lantern fly arrives,” Donegan says. “This is a fight you can only win if everyone is prepared and knows what to look for and how to respond.” DonegansTreeService.com


This article originally appeared in the August 2021 issue.

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