Understand your Canopy
The first step in working toward a tree canopy goal is understanding what you have. Urban tree canopy assessments use high resolution aerial imagery, analytical tools, and other available data to provide communities with detailed information about existing and potential tree canopy cover. Over 70 communities and 9 counties in the Chesapeake watershed have completed assessments, which you can access through our Home Page map.
Thanks to the investments of Chesapeake Bay Program partners, we are fortunate to now have ready access to “wall-to-wall” high resolution land cover data for the entire watershed. These 2013 datasets include tree canopy data layers that you may use in combination with different local GIS data layers to do custom urban tree canopy analyses for your town, county, or other place of interest. The i-Tree Landscape tool now integrates the high resolution Chesapeake tree canopy data, so that users without GIS may quickly generate land cover statistics, calculate ecosystem services (air, water, carbon, etc.), and prioritize census blocks or other units based on demographic and environmental factors.
By December 2021, the Chesapeake Bay Program is scheduled to have a 5 year update to this watershed-wide tree canopy data as well as a change analysis data to help understand where canopy gains and losses have occurred from 2013-2018. Stay tuned!
To complement the “bird’s eye” view of a canopy assessment, tree inventories are important for gathering on-the-ground information about community trees, such as tree size, species, and condition. i-Tree is a free, online software suite from the USDA Forest Service that can be used with tree inventory data to quantify your community’s tree benefits, such as air pollution and stormwater reduction, carbon sequestration, and energy savings.
Resources & Stories
This tool gives Pennsylvania communities the ability to conduct tree inventories, monitoring activities, and urban tree canopy analyses, as well as track tree maintenance and stewardship activities. View webinar to learn how to use it.