Results from Urban Tree Canopy Assessment

Download Urban Forest Canopy Study here – GR_UTC_Report_Final

In 2010, the Grand Rapids City Commission adopted the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan which included a 40% tree canopy goal based on a 2005 34% canopy estimate .  Friends of Grand Rapids Parks (FGRP), with funding from the Dyer-Ives Foundation and in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids, commissioned a study an assessment of current tree canopy conducted by Plan-It-Geo to determine how our community is doing toward reaching that goal.  This study utilizes aerial imagery acquired in the
summer of 2014 and provides an updated analysis of tree canopy to determine net outcome of canopy growth and tree planting and canopy losses from storms, pests, natural mortality, and new development.  This study also maps suitable areas for planting and assists in setting specific neighborhood canopy goals.

The report includes a current overall tree canopy percentage for the City as compared to 2005 data.  Furthermore, available potential planting locations were defined for the whole city, and can be applied directly to neighborhood boundaries, parcels, parks, watersheds, zoning classifications, political boundaries, and maintenance districts.  “Having the data available at these levels allows us to enter into new conversations with the community about strategies that can help a community reach their own canopy goal.”, says Margaret Studer, Urban Forest Project Coordinator for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

The study also shows where the city has experienced the greatest gains and losses in canopy coverage.  For example, the North Park Neighborhood has the highest Urban Tree Canopy percentage at 48% canopy coverage, which increased by 2.4% since 2005.  The Downtown has the lowest percent coverage of 4% and actually lost 0.9% canopy since 2005 The report calculates the overall ecosystem benefits of our urban forest and uses census data to show where lower Urban Tree Canopy correlates with socio-economic and demographic variables.

The report also makes a series of recommendations and insights into how the Grand Rapids community can work together to ensure a healthy and flourishing tree canopy for generations to come by not only investing in plantings but also in monitoring, maintaining and managing our urban forest.

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