Percentage of Austin's total land area covered by the tree canopy

Status

Our community recognizes that the urban forest provides social, ecological, and economic benefits. These benefits enhance the quality of life for Austin’s residents. The City of Austin (City) strives to maintain the health and integrity of our community's tree canopy. We do this by preserving trees during land development, planting new trees, and caring for existing trees.  
Austin has an estimated 33.8 million trees (Austin's Urban Forest, 2014). These trees all contribute to our tree canopy. Tree canopy includes tree leaves, branches, and stems. The City measures tree canopy every four years. Information about change in canopy cover over time is useful to better manage and care for the urban forest. A healthy full tree canopy is imperative to ensuring that the community continues to receive the benefits provided by our trees. The urban forest is composed of all trees and woody vegetation  within  the city .  
Many factors impact the urban forest including pest and disease, extreme weather from a changing climate, and land development. City and regional partners coordinate efforts to maintain and increase the percentage of tree canopy cover. Local partnerships provide additional education and stewardship opportunities to the community. 

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Watershed Protection Department completes an analysis of aerial images of the urban forest in the Austin city limits every 4 years. Completing this type of evaluation is an optimal industry standard when evaluating changes in urban tree canopy over time.   
In 2006, Watershed found a 30% canopy cover, in 2010 a 35% canopy cover, 2014 a 36% canopy cover, and 2018 holds steady at 36%.  
Note: To see the underlying data for this chart, please select the "View Source Data" link. 

Additional Measure Insights

City departments and local partners work together to support the health of Austin's urban forest. Trees are preserved through development regulations that prioritize the retention of existing trees. To learn more click on the reports and resources below.  
Additional Resources:    Community Tree Report – An annual report by the Community Tree Preservation Division, examining investment in tree stewardship in Austin from non-general fund sources. 
Community Tree Priority Map - A tree-planting priority analysis and map for identifying where trees should be planted on public land in Austin. 
State of our Environment - report provides a snapshot of the current condition of Austin's air, land, water, and forest. 
Austin’s Green Infrastructure – Examines Austin’s green infrastructure in the context of the Imagine Austin mission to Protect Environmentally Sensitive Areas & Integrate Nature into the City. 
Austin’s Urban Forestry Inventory Analysis, Austin’s Urban Forest, 2014 - An analysis of the urban forest in Austin, Texas. Explore the data at My Cities Trees.  

Static image of the Watershed Protection Department's canopy cover layer from ArcGIS.

Measure Details and Definition

1) Definition:  This measure tracks annual percentage of  tree canopy cover based on land area. The calculation is tree canopy acres/land acres. 
2) Calculation method: A GIS layer stores the area and extent of tree canopy. The layer can be colored to depict canopy on a map. 
3) Data Collection Process: Canopy is digitized from aerial imagery. The process is computer-automated using GIS and raster image processing software to extract tree canopy features from aerial images.   
4) Measure Target Calculation: 36% canopy maintained.  
5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Every 4 years
Date page was last updated: September 2022