Benefits of Trees
Trees provide important benefits, including improvements to air and water quality, provision of habitat for birds and animals, and elimination of greenhouse gases. Trees slow and absorb storm water, reducing run-off, stream degradation and erosion of soil, and helping to maintain clean drinking water. Trees increase property values and save energy costs by providing shade and acting as windbreaks. The majesty and beauty of trees provides inspiration and helps people connect with the natural world.
Urban Tree Canopy Report
In 2009, the City of Norfolk took part in a grant-based Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) study through the Virginia Department of Forestry, in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Program. It combined aerial photography with geographical informational systems (GIS) technology to obtain the current percentage of tree canopy coverage within Norfolk's city limits.
UTC is defined as the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above.
American Forests, a nonprofit conservation organization that aims to protect, restore and enhance the natural capital of trees and forests, advocates that U.S. cities east of the Mississippi River should have 36% tree coverage.
According to the study, Norfolk's UTC is 33%, when the rivers within the city's borders are not included. With bodies of water included, Norfolk measures at 26% with a goal of 30% by 2040. American Forests indicates that this is a significant accomplishment, given that Norfolk is heavily urbanized.
This study provides an impetus for the City of Norfolk to grow its tree canopy through initiatives such as Celebrate Trees. View the full Urban Tree Canopy report.