2016 Canopy Cover Report

Hemlock tree needles

2016 Canopy Cover Study

The City of Seattle’s canopy cover study, using data from 2016, found that 28% of Seattle is covered with trees. At that time the study also found that:

  • The majority of urban trees were found in two locations: residential areas (representing 67% of the land with 72% of Seattle’s tree canopy), and in the right-of-way which is interspersed throughout the city (representing 27% of the land and 22% of the canopy).
  • Larger trees and tree groves occured in parks but also on residential and institutional lands.
  • Canopy exceeded targets in developed parks, natural areas, multi-family, and institutional areas; was close to target in single-family, downtown, and commercial areas; and was below target in industrial areas.
  • Canopy cover differed across the city based on land use, the presence of parks and natural areas, and socio-economic factors. Census tracts where the population tends to be residents of color and people with lower than average income also had lower amounts of tree canopy.
  • 72% of Seattle’s tree canopy is deciduous and 28% is coniferous. Most (52%) of the conifers were on single-family land.
  • The presence of trees can reduce urban head islands (surface temperatures), especially inland, and mitigate extreme heat impacts.

A separate analysis from 2015 suggests Seattle may be losing trees, with an estimated canopy cover loss of 2% between 2010 and 2015, with a 3% margin of error.

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