Tree canopy assessment is a tool to help communities analyze their current canopy cover and plan for their furture tree canopy cover goals. Urban and community forests can be considered part of the green infrastructure that complements our grey infrastructure, and should be managed with equal importance. Tree canopy assessments can help a community determine how much of their total land area is covered by trees, identify the location of those trees, and identify where there are new opportunities to plant trees. Tree canopy assessments also determine the amount and location of impervious cover in a community. Depending on the tool used, canopy cover can be assessed by watershed, zoning or land use category, political boundary, neighborhood, business district, census tract or individual parcel. Results of analyses focus on specific community needs and provide a blueprint of available and unavailable planting, and conservation opportunities. These resources explore the value of and tools for tree canopy assessments.
Vermont Tree Canopy Assessments
The communities listed below have completed a tree canopy assessment and are using the data to protect, enhance, and conserve their canopy.
- Burlington Update (2019)
- Burlington (2008)
- Montpelier (2010)
- Rutland (2010)
- St. Albans (2008)
- South Burlington (2014)
Explore Tree Canopy Assessments
Urban Tree Canopy Assessments This USDA Forest Service site hosts a plethera of information on tree canopy assessment.
The University of Vermont's Spatial Analysis Laboratory is home to tree canopy experts. They host an interactive map that showcases over 60 assessments they have completed in parternship with the USDA Forest Servive.
Urban Forest Assessment Resource Guide Provides a framework for practitioners interested in completing urban forest ecosystem assessments. This guide is designed to walk you through the process of selecting the best urban forest assessment tool for your needs and project.
Tree Canopy Assessment Approaches and Tools
There are two commom approaches to assessing tree canopy: using GIS imagery and photo-interpretation. GIS can be used with low (30-meter) and high (1-meter) resolution. Selecting the best approach for your project will depend on your needs and resources.
i-Tree Suite offers two tools to asses canopy cover: Canopy and Vue. Canopy uses photo-interpretation to identify the land cover of a series of random points. Vue uses National Land Cover Database (NLCD) to estimate canopy cover. The resolution is 30-meter which limits accuracy and finer analaysis.
If you desire a detailed canopy cover assessment, down to one meter, high-resolution imagery is needed and you will most likely need to work with a contractor.
Continued technological improvement will lead to more detailed analyses. If you are interested in a tree canopy assessment, let us know.