Digital Cities & Citizens

Historic tree is now digitally connected

Caroline Wendt
January 17, 2022

A beech tree stood for over 150 years on Katedralskolan's yard until its successor has been planted in December 2019. The new tree is already historic − not only because it is an important symbol for the school but also because it is the first large tree that the City of Lund has chosen to monitor by looking at the moisture levels with the help of sensors dug near the tree’s roots. Monitoring trees is possible via a new sensor technology that has been developed in Lund. It is part of our large IoT project Smart Public Environments (Smarta Offentliga Miljöer/SOM).

Since 1857, Lunds Katedralskolan (Lund Cathedral School) has had a warden tree in its schoolyard. The tree was an important part of the school and every year the dates were recorded when the first buds bloomed and the tree fully blossomed. It was in 1887 that the school began the tradition of celebrating the tree with speeches and songs during a ceremony in the schoolyard. The tree needed to be taken down in 2021 as it became old and fungal. However, the 11th December 2019 marks a new historical date for the school as a new tree has been planted. The new tree is 40 years old, nine meters high and weighs about 6 tons.

During summer, students can enjoy the tree’s greenery and coolness while sitting on the lawn or a wooden deck. The tree comes from Germany and has been previously replanted eight times to stimulate the formation of small fine roots that make it more fit for relocation. The tree and its transportation to Sweden have amounted to a cost of 217,000 SEK.

“This tree has a great cultural-historical value but is of course also valuable for the environment and stands for many ecosystem services”, says Barbro Lange who is a project manager and landscape architect at Markentreprenad at Lund Municipality. “We hope that this tree will last at least as long as the previous one.”

The tree is not only important for Lund Cathedral school and the City of Lund. There is one more aspect that makes it historic − it is the first large tree that Lund municipality has chosen to monitor with sensors. When the tree has been planted, sensors have already been dug into the pit. Anders Hedberg from Sensefarm was on site to put two sensors in the bottom of the planting pit and two sensors about 30 cm below ground level.

"All users at Markentreprenad can see if there is enough moisture at the roots via their mobile phone or computer and by having sensors on two levels, they can also see what happens when it rains," says Anders Hedberg from Sensefarm.

The sensor data are sent via Lund's LoRa network, which is hosted by Kraftringen. A new base station will be placed nearby to strengthen the signals. The data informs care takers how much extra water the tree needs.

The SOM project is part of the Strategic Innovation Program for the Internet of Things, IoT Sweden, which is funded by Vinnova.

Translation: Christin Scheller

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