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URBAN TREE CANOPY ASSESSMENT: A Community’s Path to Understanding and Managing the Urban Forest

Author: USDA Forest Service
Date: April 2019
Abstract: An Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) assessment, which provides a measure of a community’s tree canopy cover, is important for understanding the extent of a community’s forest or tree resource. UTC assessments are often used for establishing and implementing municipal tree canopy goals as part of broader urban greening and sustainability initiatives. Most useful when it is combined with other information—such as the extent of impervious surfaces, socioeconomic and health data, traffic density, and heat island maps—UTC assessment contributes to broader urban greening goals, enabling communities to craft management plans and make policy decisions to optimize benefits from urban forests. This report provides an overview of the approaches, methods, and data sources used in UTC assessments, focusing on the initial steps of project planning, assessment, and analysis. The report also provides general guidelines for conducting UTC assessments and analysis to ensure useful, quality results that can be applied in management and decision-making efforts, and resources for planning and implementing the UTC assessment process. The report is designed to help personnel involved in urban natural resource planning move forward with UTC project planning and assessment.

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