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Plant Focus

A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

The ConServator: Conservation Mapping and Oak Conservation

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Timothy M. Boland

Published May 2019 in International Oaks No. 30: 325–332


The preservation of oak ecosystems requires that we substantiate their value and advocate their protection. Throughout the world the traumatic effects of climate change are particularly evident on islands. In 2013, the Polly Hill Arboretum (PHA) developed a cloud-based mapping system using geographic information technologies with the goal of creating a modern flora for the island of Martha’s Vineyard, located in Massachusetts, U.S.A. In addition to this, PHA research associate Dr. David Foster (Director, Harvard Forest) used the same technology to map both the historic and modern forests of the Island. This broad collaborative effort between Harvard Forest, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and the land conservation organizations on Martha’s Vineyard has generated mapping tools that inform protection measures, protect biodiversity, and form the basis for island oak preservation. The Arboretum was founded in 1998 with a mission of horticultural experimentation, plant conservation, and the education of students of all ages.


cloud-based mapping, ArcGIS, Martha’s Vineyard


Boland, T. 2011. Oak Diversity and Ecology on the Island of Martha's Vineyard. International Oaks 22: 13-22.

Foster, D.R., and G. Motzkin. 1999. Historical influences on the landscape of Martha’s Vineyard--perspectives on the management of Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. Harvard Forest Paper no. 23. Petersham, MA: Harvard Forest.

Foster, D.R. 2017. A Meeting of Land and Sea: Nature and the Future of Martha’s Vineyard. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Seidel, C. 2018. Conserved land within Dukes County, MA. ArcGIS

Springfellow, B. 2016. “Oak Bluffs Water District postpones MVC hearing on Solar array.” Martha’s Vineyard Times. September 7.