Tree Canopy Assessment

Tree Canopy Assessment

A two-page fact sheet containing the results of the study is available for download here.

The tree canopy assessment included the following activities:

  • The use of aerial photography and remote imagery to establish a tree canopy baseline that can be used to track canopy gains and losses over time;
  • A relation of the tree canopy to socio-demographic and economic data at the Louisville Metro Council District and Census Tract scales;
  • A relation of the tree canopy to the provision of ecosystem services including trapping and slowing rain water, energy conservation, carbon sequestration, heat island reduction and improvements to air and water quality;
  • The location of areas of environmental need for tree cover and the determination of the potential canopy for those locations. These areas  include neighborhoods in greatest need for reducing heat stress and locations where trees can most optimally reduce flooding; and
  • The creation of tree planting timetables and cost estimates to achieve up to 45% canopy coverage.

The History Leading Up to Louisville's First Tree Canopy Assesment

In May 2014, Louisville Metro Government hired the Davey Resource Group to complete the city’s first comprehensive tree canopy assessment. The project will result in the setting of a new long-term goal to achieve 45% tree canopy coverage for Louisville Metro. The tree canopy assessment will provide a baseline of tree canopy cover, as well as prioritize tree planting locations for mitigating the urban heat island effect and for stormwater management.

Scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology recently identified Louisville as having among the fastest rising urban heat islands in the country. Increasing the city's tree canopy will reduce the urban heat island effect, relieving heat stress in residential neighborhoods and reducing the number of ozone alert days by cooling the atmosphere.

Increasing the tree canopy also will assist Louisville's Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) in reducing rainwater overflows in sewers, improving compliance with the terms of a consent decree between MSD and Federal and State agencies. The urban tree canopy (UTC) assessment will include an analysis of MSD data for locations within the city where local flooding and storm water problems cause combined sewer overflows, street flooding and other related problems. MSD hydrological modeling data will also be used to assess the most sensitive areas in terms of flooding, drainage and combined sewer overflows. The UTC will help identify areas where tree planting can play a major role in both absorbing and slowing storm water runoff.

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