Urban Tree Canopy Report Unveiled

Utilizing cutting edge software, Urban Forestry staff assessed the amount of tree cover in Edmond by various land uses earlier this year, putting together a report that was just released in recent weeks. Measuring the amount of canopy coverage that our trees provide is important to managing and conserving our urban forest. Over the years, past and future development of our city impacts our local cross timbers ecosystem and changes the urban forest. It is important to assess the state of tree canopy cover, looking into the future to predict how urban tree canopy will be further impacted by current practices in development and growth. To read the full report, view the Urban Forest Studies page.

Urban tree canopy is a measure which, when viewed from above, refers to the amount of tree leaves, limbs and stems that shelter the ground, buildings, streets, etc. It is expressed as a percentage of the area that is covered by tree crowns.

A large percentage of urban tree canopy is sought by communities, because larger, mature trees provide greater amounts of tree benefits such as higher property values, energy savings, air purification, cooler temperatures, and community beautification. Part of the job of the Urban Forestry Department is ensuring that the urban forest remains healthy, that it is retained and continues to grow, and that future generations in Edmond have trees in their community to enjoy and benefit from.

This urban tree canopy study looked at the amount of tree canopy cover throughout various land uses. The land uses identified were Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Institutional, Transportation, Open Space and Undeveloped. While identifying tree canopy, we also figured percentages for other types of vegetation, water, bare ground and impervious surfaces. See the chart below for cover values generated from the study in each land use.
Study findings indicated a favorable overall tree canopy percentage of nearly 36%. This is not too far off from the 40% target tree canopy amount that American Forests has recommended for many communities. The amount of tree coverage in the Residential and Undeveloped areas (46%) is a large contributor to this currently favorable percentage. Much lower tree cover percentages resulted from measurements in other land uses. The tree canopy coverage for Commercial areas sits at less than 18%, and Industrial areas include only 10% tree canopy. Institutional areas, such as schools and city properties, have about 24% tree canopy coverage. Considering the large amount of undeveloped land that is contributing to Edmond’s high urban tree canopy coverage, the 36% overall value could be impacted greatly as new sites develop. There are opportunities to continue maintaining and increasing the tree cover of the Transportation (15% tree cover) and Open Space (37%) land uses through tree care practices and planting programs.

Edmond has come to the verge of a pivotal shift on how landscaping on development sites is viewed. Rather than just a beautification element, trees throughout the city can be utilized as environmental management infrastructure. By retaining healthy, mature trees and planting new trees, the future of tree benefits in Edmond may be ensured for generations to come. Developing active management standards for urban tree canopy in Edmond now can result in greater relief realized from urban tree canopy infrastructure in the future, when it becomes most vital. The City of Edmond has the potential to maintain, enhance, and preserve its local ecosystems and cross timbers forest by thoughtfully planning for and appropriately developing the community. You can help in this effort by keeping touch with us here and participating in our programs.

View more topics from the January 2013 Edmond Tree Mail message.