How to Determine Urban Canopy Cover

By: Richard J. Magill, Magill & Associates, Inc.


First Urban Tree Canopy Cover Benchmark in Australia

The 202020 Vision and University of Technology Sydney has released the first ever benchmark report on urban tree canopy cover in Australia.


The Difference That Urban Trees Make

The Difference That Urban Trees Make:

Urban developers around the world are joining in the effort to create green cities for future generations.

In an article by Ben Kaplan from We Create Here in Iowa, he mentioned the many benefits of urban trees based on a list created by Dan Burden. Burden is the co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute – an organisation focused on creating pedestrian friendly spaces.

The story stated several benefits of urban trees. One is creating a safer environment. This is because street trees “make people drive more carefully” thereby keeping pedestrians safe and reducing stress associated with driving.

“Surprisingly, people perceive driving through areas with street trees as taking less time than driving in areas without street trees,” Kaplan noted.

Second, trees absorb greenhouse gas emissions, lowering the carbon emissions and other particulates in the air. Apart from that, “roads covered by a canopy of mature trees last 40 to 60 percent longer than roads without tree cover.”

The shade also lowers the heat island effect as canopied roads stay cooler on hot days. “Street trees also soak up a lot of water, helping to prevent street flooding and runoff.”

As we mentioned in the blog, street trees actually have more financial benefits to the city than the cost to maintain them. According to Kaplan’s article, it costs $1.2 million a year to maintain all of the 35,000 street trees in their area. But they generate $5 million of positive economic benefits each year.

“The average value per tree is $34 and in total generates $1.3 million a year. Street trees in Cedar Rapids also divert enough stormwater to save the city $1.8 million a year, reduce energy costs by $1.3 milion a year and provide $450,000 worth of air quality improvement and carbon reduction annually.”

“If you want to experience the difference street trees can make as a pedestrian, take a happy hour stroll from the Starlite Room to Belle’s Basix or 101 Gastropub, once on the tree-plentiful north side of 1st Avenue, and walk back on the unshaded south side of the street,” Kaplan said.

Several organisations are aware of the many benefits trees provide. More recently, according to 9&10 News in Michigan, the Greening of Detroit’s Green Corps program is hiring 80 high school students to help take care of the 12,000 trees and green spaces in the city. Since it started, the program has hired more than 1,500 young people to help care for the city’s environment.

These young people will also “work to improve parks and support conservation projects while learning about agriculture and farming at The Greening’s farm gardens”.

Previously, residents of Detroit also united to create a greener city. It is these efforts from communities and organisations that will continue to push others to do their part in creating a greener future.

CTA_Full Treepit Library

Toronto Urban Forest Worth $7B

The trees in the City of Toronto’s urban forest are worth an estimated $7 billion, roughly $700 per tree, according to a recent study by TD Economics.

The report said the city’s urban forest provides residents with over $80 million worth of environmental benefits and cost savings each year. For the average single family household, that’s $125 annual savings.

As Citygreen® previously posted, urban forests do so much more than just beautify the area. Green space provides health, social and psychological benefits to its residents.

Using the City of Toronto’s urban forest as an example, TD Economics demonstrated how “an investment in urban forests is an investment in the overall economic and environmental well-being of urban society”. In the most populous city in Canada, there are 10 million trees of at least 116 different species.

“From a bird’s-eye view, these trees appear as a lush green canopy that covers nearly 30 percent (190 km2) of the City of Toronto. The density of Toronto’s urban forest is on average 16,000 trees per square kilometre or about four trees per person in the city. The majority of Toronto’s urban forest is located in its ravines and river valleys, such as the Don Valley, Highland Creek and Rouge River watersheds, which have been largely undisturbed by the city’s expansion.”

In recent years, there’s been an increase in recognition of the environmental and economic benefits of urban forests. Because of this, Toronto’s urban forest is “viewed as an investment in the economic and environmental wellbeing of the city”.

The report said that each year, Toronto’s urban forest intercepts around 25 million cubic metres of wet-weather flow. Urban forests intercept falling precipitation in their canopy thereby increasing the amount of water absorbed into the ground and reducing soil erosion. “The annual cost savings this provides through reducing burdens on processing infrastructure and mitigating damage is valued at over $50 million.”

As for air pollution, Toronto’s urban forest removes around one-quarter of the annual emissions produced by industry within the city. That’s about 19,000 metric tons of air pollution removed from the atmosphere each year. “The amount of particulate matter removed by Toronto’s urban forest each year is equivalent to the amount released by over one million automobiles or 100,000 single family homes.”

The report estimated that the amount of air pollution abated by the city’s urban forest generates an annual savings of $19 million – just under $2 per tree.

Trees can also reduce the energy consumption of buildings by providing shade, evaporative cooling and blocking winter winds. The annual net cooling effect of a young healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Each year, Toronto’s urban forest generates $6.5 million in energy savings for businesses and households.

“Reduced energy consumption also avoids 17,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from emissions intensive energy sources each year, providing an annual savings of $400,000 to $600,000.”

The forests also sequesters over 46,000 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 31,000 automobiles or 16,000 single family homes. Properties in Toronto near green spaces have also increased in value.

“Rental rates of commercial office properties are about seven percent higher on sites having a high quality landscape that includes trees.”

“Maintaining our urban forests makes sense, as every dollar spent on maintenance returns $1.35 – $3.20 worth of benefits to residents of the City of Toronto. The cost savings produced by our urban forests make it clear that keeping the green on our streets, keeps the green in our wallets.”

CTA_Full Treepit Library

Load More...

“Great customer service, quick response times and a very in depth QA system with constant support.”

- Laura Wiesenekker, Project Engineer, Densford Civil -

“Citygreen is a very professional  business, and I found everything was great in terms of deliveries, product supply and information. It was all forthcoming and helped us to complete the project.”

- Keith Burns, Architect/Designer, Keith Burns Architect -

“Citygreen offered training and invaluable technical assistance during the works.”

- James Callan, Estimating Manager, Complex Co Pty Ltd -

“Our experience, in working with a Citygreen Design Studio was second to none. We found responses from the design studio to be very timely, and technically thorough. We went backwards and forwards a number of times, looking at different iterations of the design and, nothing was too much trouble to examine and explore different possibilities. I would highly recommend the Citygreen Design Studio to any future client considering using your services.”

- Sandra Smith, Principal Landscape Architect, City Of Monash -

“We are big on compliance on all projects, and the fact that their SmartCertify cloud platform covers all bases, and supports their 20 year warranties, is critical – especially that these pits are being installed under roadways and footpaths.”

- Johny Purkaystha, Civil Program Engineer, Central Coast Council -

"I reviewed all the previous projects that we have installed in the past couple years using your product and I can happily report back that we have 0% mortality in the soil cells, which is incredible!"

- Brendan Wilton, CEO, Trim Landscaping, Bedford, Canada -