Trees and tree canopy (a measurement which encompasses the layer of leaves, branches and stems of trees that shelter the ground when viewed from above) are increasingly recognized as key tools in achieving environmental, social, and economic resilience. In our Green Energy & Climate Action and Green Infrastructure Plans, PVPC prioritizes tree planting and protecting and enhancing the urban tree canopy as key strategies to both reducing energy demand and improving stormwater management. The majority of our communities have prioritized enhancing and/or protecting their public tree stock in their MVP Community Resilience Building workshops, recognizing that ecosystem services provided out by trees include:
- Removal of pollutants from the air, soil and water
- Release of water vapor into the atmosphere (which cools the surrounding areas) and shading adjacent surfaces to mitigate the urban heat island effect
- Interception of rainfall and reduction of stormwater runoff (and thus, reducing the costs related to infrastructure required to manage it)
- Energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to shade provided
- Carbon sequestration
- Increased property values
- Other health, social, economic, and aesthetic benefits as well.
While tree canopy provides these same benefits in rural communities, the effect of the canopy is felt especially strongly in urban areas otherwise characterized by large amounts of impervious surfaces. A community with greater urban tree canopy cover (UTC) will experience more ecosystem services than a community with lower UTC, just as neighborhoods will reap co-benefits proportionate to their UTC.
To help our communities understand and evaluate their existing level of canopy cover and where is most and least concentrated, PVPC generates Urban tree Canopy Cover Assessments which overlay municipal and neighborhood demographic data with canopy cover analysis to provide a nuanced characterization of which populations have access to the public health and environmental co-benefits associated with the commiunity's existing tree canopy cover. the data provided in this report will assist the municipality in:
- identifying and quantifying the benefits provided by existing canopy cover;
- identifying and prioritizing areas in need of increased canopy cover; and
- providing material for authoring compelling grant narratives to fund future urban forestry projects that expand/improve coverage.
While these reports detail existing conditiopns in order to assist the community in the creation of canopy cover goals, they do not set canopy cover goals in and of themselves. The reports provide basic guidance in setting canopy cover goals/targets and visualizing prioritization scenarios.
To learn more about generating an Urban tree Canopy Cover Assessment for your community (whether rural, suburban, or urban), contact Corrin Meise-Munns at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-687-410.