Improving a city’s tree canopy (i.e., tree cover) can have numerous benefits, from reducing summer peak temperatures to improving air quality to strengthening social ties among neighbors. These factors can improve climate resilience while also helping a community attract businesses and residents.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) Assessment helps decision makers understand their urban forest resources, particularly the amount of tree canopy that currently exists and the amount that could exist. The tool assists users in identifying vulnerable populations that lack equal opportunities to experience urban green space.
Urban Tree Canopy assessments allow communities to prioritize planting/greening goals based on social, economic, and ecological criteria such as flooding, wildlife habitat, urban heat island/heat stress, public health (e.g., asthma), crime, income, and other variables. The information from these assessments has been used to inform UTC goals, prioritize locations for tree planting efforts, establish urban forestry master plans, understand patterns of environmental justice, inform sustainability plans, and justify budget increases for urban forestry programs.