Talking with trees

This August, students and artists will come together with scientists and musicians in Armidale to explore the potential of SMART Trees. SMART tree technology uses highly specialised tree monitoring sensors to monitor sap flow and collect a range of data that can indicate soil quality and tree health.

This information can show how trees respond to environmental factors like water and heat and reveal detailed information about how the same species of tree grows in different locations.

Talking with Trees – Exploring SMART trees from the inside out! is a National Science Week project funded by the NSW Regional Science Grants program. It’s sparked the creation of a new Regional Science Hub in the New England Region designed to connect community members with science through the provision of welcoming events.

The Science Hub’s first project looks at innovative SMART tree technology developed in Armidale by ICT International and used around the world. This technology can help farmers, scientists and land owners better understand and manage tree plantations.  SMART tree technology also has the potential to contribute new information that will influence policy making on issues like climate change, natural resource management and drought management.

The local community is now getting involved and exploring what this locally grown technology means for the future of trees and sustainability around the world.

The event planned to launch in National Science Week in Armidale is looking closely at SMART trees from the inside out by inviting students and artists to join scientists and musicians to exlplore questions like:

  • What does sap flow sound like?
  • How do trees behave in changing weather conditions and at different times of year?
  • What do trees do at night?

Over the coming weeks, participants will ponder such questions to create a sound and sculpture installation that will be on display from 9 August at the New England Regional Art Museum.

Later in the year, an international symposium on SMART trees will be held in October at which students will have opportunities to present their artistic and scientific findings.

Participating organisations include the Armidale Tree Group, Southern New England Landcare (SNELCC), NSW Department of Education and Training, the Catalyst Club (a science club for primary school aged children) and New England Regional Art Museum.

Images courtesy of artist Jonathan Larsen. This event was presented by the newly established North West New England Science Hub in celebration of National Science Week with support from Inspiring Australia NSW.