Understand your Canopy

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Urban tree canopy assessments help identify where to focus tree planting and protection efforts.

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.


Featured Resources

Resources & Stories

Trees Count App logo

Trees Count

Free urban trees inventory app now available on iTunes and Google Play.

Urban Forest Assessments Resource Guide

Urban Forest Assessments Resource Guide

Urban forest assessments are a key tool to help quantify the benefits
that trees and urban forests provide, advancing our understanding of these valuable resources.

Graphic with trees, city and text "i-Tree Landscape"

Webinar: i-Tree Landscape

Learn how to use the i-Tree Landscape tool which combines ecosystem services calculations, demographic data and high resolution tree canopy data for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Photo of wetland with text Chesapeake Bay Land Cover Production Program

Chesapeake High-Res Land Cover Data

Learn about and download high resolution land cover data (2013), including tree canopy, produced by the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership for the entire watershed.

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PA Community Tree Map

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.

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DC Urban Tree Canopy Story Map

A Story Map in ArcGIS Online of how the Nation’s Capital created and maintained a urban tree canopy program and how it has worked and changed over time.

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Conducting a Community Tree Inventory

Penn State Extension’s Forest Resources describes the process of conducting a tree inventory and the four phases it can be divided into: planning, implementation, application, and maintenance.