Latest tree canopy number: 46.8 percent

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It appears that Charlotte’s tree canopy percentage is holding steady.

According to an analysis released by the city of Charlotte Monday evening to City Council, the newest tree canopy percentage is 46.8 percent – just slightly down from 47.1 percent. Some notes:

  • The analysis compares data collected in 2012 to data collected in 2016 (the county’s hacking incident  last year delayed access to the 2016 data).
  • The .3 percent drop equates to 400 to 520 acres of lost trees.
  • Thanks to advanced technology, assessing tree canopy is a more accurate science today than it was in 2012. It’s now easier to capture smaller trees, which means the 2012 vs. 2016 comparison may not be an apples to apples comparison.
  • The margin of error is .9 percent.
  • The city has annexed land since the 2012 assessment, and that land was factored into the new canopy number. However, we do not yet know the extent of that impact.

City officials are continuing to comb through the data, which was analyzed by private contractor Plan-It Geo. City Assistant Manager Gina Shell suggested that City Council may want to revisit its goal of 50 percent canopy by 2050 and instead create goals centered around the benefits of trees, such as shade and air quality.

TreesCharlotte is eager to dig into the analysis as it is published: “Poring over the data is essential to finding opportunities to grow the canopy,” said Executive Director Chuck Cole. “Understanding losses and gains and why they occur will give us an edge to ensure a healthy canopy in Charlotte.”

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more, the City Council’s Environment Committee will get a more thorough report on Thursday, Feb. 14, at noon in the Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St.  The meeting agenda will be available online here when ready.



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