Urban Tree Canopy Goal

Tree canopy within a community impacts its residents’ health, quality of life, environment, economy, and culture. Trees improve air and water quality, manage storm water, and reduce urban heat island effect. They reduce building energy usage and create inviting atmospheres for businesses. Trees also offer cooling shade, a calming effect, and increased property values. Here in Edmond, the Cross Timbers ecosystem is also of cultural value, a unique forest type of which we have large amounts that are still undisturbed. Through research and assessment, the City of Edmond has sought to learn more about this important resource in order to provide necessary stewardship for the future of Edmond’s urban forest.

In 2012, Edmond Urban Forestry released the Urban Tree Canopy Report, which revealed percentages of tree canopy coverage across Edmond and in different land uses. While it was found that Edmond had a favorable amount of 35.9% tree canopy at that time, large areas of undeveloped land across Edmond (particularly east of I 35) were contributing to that.
Canopy Benchmark Graphic 400px
The full report analyzed factors that could potentially have a big impact on tree canopy in the future, and Urban Forestry has continued to promote the importance of planting and preserving trees throughout different land uses within the City.  As conversations about Edmond’s tree canopy continued, Edmond City Council set forth an initiative to establish a tree canopy goal for Edmond in 2015. They placed this initiative on their Strategic Plan and began working with the Urban Forestry Commission to determine what exactly that goal should look like.  In October 2017, the Urban Forestry Commission delivered the following goal recommendation, along with a list of potential actions for supporting tree canopy:

“Implement and continue policy and programs that strive to increase tree canopy into the Optimal range (>40%), while preventing tree canopy levels from falling below the Baseline (37-40%) into the Critical range (<37%). Reassess canopy cover every 2-3 years in order to gauge progress.”

This goal was adopted by Edmond City Council as a Performance Benchmark on their 2018 Strategic Plan. The graphic shown above illustrates recent and current levels of tree canopy in Edmond.  Ranges for canopy percentages have been assigned in order to allow for estimated statistical uncertainty associated with the assessment methods.

Drawing from existing assessments of Edmond’s tree canopy coverage, this goal serves as a benchmark for measuring progress in retaining and increasing tree canopy in Edmond. It allows for active monitoring of progress, so that policy and programs supporting tree canopy may be implemented and adapted along the way.

City Council will revisit the goal each year during their Strategic Planning workshop, and canopy assessment will be performed every 2-3 years by the Urban Forestry Department, to monitor progress.

View other topics from the Spring 2018 issue of Edmond Tree Mail