About Charlotte’s Canopy

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What is Tree Canopy?

Tree canopy refers to the layer of tree parts (leaves, branches, and stems) that provide coverage over the ground or objects below the tree. In other words, if you were to take a bird’s-eye view photo of Charlotte, you would find that 45% of that photo would just be the tops of trees. Larger trees create more canopy than smaller or thinner trees. Due to rapid development, old age, and a changing environment, Charlotte’s tree canopy is diminishing quickly, which can alter the temperature, health, infrastructure, and overall feel of Queen City. Below are detailed resources that cover the state of Charlotte tree canopy, how it’s changed over time, how to preserve and grow our existing canopy.

State of the Canopy

Did you know that Charlotte is losing about 3 football fields of canopy per day?! Read the sobering State of the Canopy study HERE.

Canopy Cover by Neighborhood

Another component for the State of the Canopy study is an interactive map that displays current canopy cover and change in canopy over time by neighborhood. Explore the map HERE.

Urban Forest Master Plan

In order to better preserve and care of Charlotte’s iconic urban forest, the City of Charlotte created an extensive Urban Forest Plan. This plan lays out the threats to Charlotte’s canopy and what we can do to save it. Read the Urban Forest Master Plan HERE.

Tree Equity in Charlotte

Although Charlotte’s overall tree canopy cover is at about 45%, our canopy is not equally distributed. Typically, underserved communities of color have fewer trees than wealthier, white neighborhoods. TreesCharlotte is actively working to address tree inequality by designing programs in partnership with low-canopy communities to get more trees planted and stewarded. Read more about tree distribution HERE.

Charlotte’s Tree Ordinance

Charlotte’s Tree Ordinance plays a vital role in protecting and growing the city’s nationally recognized tree canopy. First adopted in 1978, the ordinance sets requirements for saving and planting trees on public and private property impacted by development. Learn more about the Charlotte Tree Ordinance on the City of Charlotte & Mecklenberg County web site.

Tree Canopy Study & Analysis for Charlotte/Mecklenburg County

With funding from the City of Charlotte, a detailed analysis of the region’s existing and potential tree canopy was conducted by the Spatial Analysis Laboratory at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources. Utilizing data from 2012, the study was a collaborative effort with Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, SavATree, and the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. Download a PDF of this study.

From Tree to Shining Tree

A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour.

In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows beneath forests, building an underground network where deals are made and lives are saved (and lost) in a complex web of friendships, rivalries, and business relations. It’s a network that scientists are only just beginning to untangle and map, and it’s not only turning our understanding of forests upside down, it’s leading some researchers to rethink what it means to be intelligent.

Produced by Annie McEwen and Brenna Farrell. Special Thanks to Latif Nasser, Stephanie Tam, Teresa Ryan, Marc Guttman, and Professor Nicholas P. Money at Miami University. 

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