You may have seen them in your Berkeley Heights neighborhood this past fall:  Groups of three to four people walking down the street, looking at trees, hugging them with string, entering data into handheld devices.  You may have wondered who these people were, what they were doing and why. 

In fact some residents came out of their houses to ask just those questions.  They wondered if the trees were being marked for removal.  And they didn’t want anyone to take their trees.

The groups on the streets were volunteers, who were not interested in removing trees.  Rather, they were identifying and evaluating the street trees (trees in the township right of way).  And they are starting again this spring.

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The project is part of the Township’s Community Forestry Management Plan.  “We have multiple goals,” said Richard Leister, a township environmental commissioner who heads the project.  “We want to determine the diversity of the trees in the Township. Having only a few species raises exposure to tree diseases and insects that attack a single species.  We want to increase that diversity.” 

The project will also:

  • Determine the overall health of Berkeley Heights' tree resource.
  • Catalogue all trees along the right of way in the township.
  • Identify open planting spaces in the community.
  • Identify conflicts with sidewalks and utility lines.
  • Evaluate the need for maintenance.

This large project relies on volunteers.  “We already have several capable team members,” said Mr. Leister.  “But we can use more people who are interested in helping to preserve our trees.  They receive training in tree identification and tree hazards.  Working in groups, they spend about two to four hours a week walking down a street. It’s a flexible schedule.”

The project begins again this spring and is expected to continue into the fall.

Anyone interested in volunteering for this project should send an email to or call 908-790-1552. 

The Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission was established to protect, develop or use natural resources, including water resources, located within the Township. The Environmental Commission recommends plans and programs to the Planning Board for the development and use of open lands and wetlands.  The Commission maintains a website at