Why Tree Canopy?

Trees and forests play a vital role in protecting and restoring our Chesapeake Bay watershed. Whatever size your community, your local tree canopy provides an array of benefits that we often take for granted. Trees create healthy, vibrant communities – cleaning the air, reducing stormwater pollution, providing shade and energy savings, nurturing wildlife, and enhancing the local economy and quality of life.

Since 2003, the Chesapeake Bay states and partners have set goals for urban tree canopy, and in 2014 charted a new Chesapeake Tree Canopy Strategy to help communities make progress on these goals. Trees are a critical Best Management Practice (BMP) that communities can use to help achieve our “pollution diet” or Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Learn more about the new BMP credits recently approved for Urban Tree Canopy Expansion and Urban Forest Planting via this Fact Sheet and complete webcast/resources posted on Chesapeake Stormwater Network.


Featured Resources

Resources & Stories

Friends standing around a tree

Tree Equity Case Study: Oakland, CA

Founded in alignment with the principles of environmental justice, Urban Releaf’s work to improve Oakland’s tree canopy has had local and regional impacts on community resilience.

Aerial view of neighborhoods in Detroit

Tree Equity Case Study: Detroit, MI

The Greening of Detroit has overseen the planting and maintenance of more than 130,000 trees for the health, wealth, and resilience of Detroit neighborhoods.

Tree Equity Case Study: New Jersey

Since 1998, The New Jersey Tree Foundation has put community residents at the center of their mission to increase tree canopy in underserved, overburdened, and marginalized neighborhoods.

Canopy cover map of Portland

Tree Equity Case Study: Portland, OR

The City of Portland used data and city resources to plan for Tree Equity, working to prioritize equitable access to trees and urban forest services for communities of color, including low-income, refugee, and immigrant communities.

Neighborhood without a tree canopy next to neighborhood with ample tree camopy

Baltimore Tree Trust

Baltimore’s lead tree-planting partner, The Baltimore Tree Trust, works to restore Tree Equity by increasing canopy cover in neighborhoods. They built community trust through word-of-mouth, informing tree planting and maintenance, one neighborhood at a time.

Completed tree planting

Webinar: Reforestation

Part 1 of Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s “Roots” series looks at reforestation programs designed to convert turf to forest through larger-scale plantings, featuring Frederick County’s Creek ReLeaf Program and Baltimore County’s Turf to Trees Program.

Urban tree canopy with building in background

Webinar: Big Trees, Small Spaces

Part 2 of Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s “Roots” series focuses on, we are the “design” challenges of planting trees in confined urban spaces, including constraints and best practices for good tree growth and survival.

Young trees on a grassy lawn

Webinar: Finding the Right Tree BMP

Part 3 of Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s “Roots” series gets into the details of the different tree BMPs that you can use for Chesapeake Bay TMDL credit: Tree Canopy Expansion, Forest Planting, and Riparian Buffer Plantings.

Trees to Offset Stormwater publication cover

GIC’s Trees to Offset Stormwater Project

The Green Infrastructure Center joined with six states – VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, and AL – to study how urban trees mitigate stormwater runoff. A summary report, individual case study booklets, and planning tools are provided.

Accounting for Trees in Stormwater Models publication cover page

Accounting for Trees in Stormwater Models

This paper is intended to help the stormwater engineering community more easily account for trees in runoff and pollutant load calculations so that they can more readily incorporate them into their stormwater management strategies.

Cover page of resource publication

Urban Forest Systems and Green Stormwater Infrastructure

This publication focuses on the effects of trees on urban stormwater runoff, provides helpful urban forest management strategies to maximize stormwater benefits, and demonstrates several examples around the US where the stormwater benefits of urban trees are credited for reducing stormwater volume and pollutant loading.

Four individuals plant a tree alongside the Chesapeake Bay at the Perry Point Veterans Medical Facility.

Trees, Veterans, and Public Health in Maryland

The Maryland Forest Service works with a range of veterans facilities to plant trees and utilize the health benefits trees provide. One facility, Perry Point VA Medical Center, became the first recognized Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus in Healthcare.

Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives

Research compiled by the Southern Group of State Foresters on how urban forests can improve physical and mental health and promote healing.

Baltimore: Reclaiming wood, lives and communities

The Baltimore Wood Project created a framework to be smarter and more thoughtful about urban wood “waste” in the city. With new partners and ideas, they have modeled a regional economy around wood and land restoration.

New National Site: TreesandStormwater.org

Comprehensive national resource includes a document builder, hundreds of case studies, videos, methods and best practices, benefit calculators and other tools on how adding trees can boost overall system performance, often at lower costs.