Trees & Green Space

Trees and open spaces are integral to healthy urban environments.

Trees are an important part of Seattle's built and natural environment. They promote social, economic, and environmental health by capturing and slowing rain; filtering air pollution; providing food and habitat; and contributing to the character and aesthetic beauty of our neighborhoods and business districts.

Seattle has many trees in parks, but we also consider trees on private property and street right-of-way when looking at the city's overall canopy cover (the percent of the city that is covered by trees as seen from an aerial view). Seattle currently has 23 percent canopy cover, and a goal to reach 30 percent canopy cover by 2037. The Urban Forest Stewardship Plan guides the City's progress towards that goal. The Office of Sustainability and Environment oversees implementation of the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, coordinates the Urban Forest Inter-departmental team, and staffs the Urban Forestry Commission.

The Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) is a unique public-private venture dedicated to promoting a livable city by re-establishing and maintaining healthy urban forests. Formed in 2004 by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the City of Seattle and Forterra (formerly known as Cascade Land Conservancy), the GSP is a one-time, 20-year investment in the restoration of our forests. The GSP goal is to restore 2,500 acres of forested parklands by 2025. OSE staffs the GSP Management Team and Executive Council.

OSE's Key Initiatives

The Office of Sustainability and Environment plays a role in the following initiatives. See the Programs & Policies page of this section for additional Trees & Open Space related work the City is engaged in.

Urban Forest Stewardship Plan
A long term vision for increasing tree canopy cover in Seattle.
Urban Forestry Commission
The City passed Ordinance 123052 in August 2009 establishing an Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) to advise the Mayor and City Council on policy and regulations for protecting, managing, and conserving trees and vegetation in the City of Seattle.
Green Seattle Partnership
The Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) is a unique public-private venture dedicated to promoting a livable city by re-establishing and maintaining healthy urban forests. The GSP goal is to restore 2,500 acres of forested parklands by 2025 with the help of many dedicated volunteers. Formed in 2004 by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the City of Seattle and Forterra (formerly known as Cascade Land Conservancy), the GSP is a one-time, 20-year investment in the restoration of our forests. OSE staffs the GSP’s Management Team and the Executive Council.

Moving the Needle trees overview

Below is a summary of the Trees & Green Space strategies, goals and progress to date from the City's environmental progress report, Moving the Needle. Visit the Moving the Needle page for more information, download the full report, or check out the report's Trees & Green Space section for infographics and more . Tree canopy goals come from the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, which publishes annual progress reports.

Seattle will preserve and enhance its open spaces, parks and trees to maximize ecological, social, and environmental benefits for all. Our strategies inlude:

  1. Green Space

    Provide safe and welcoming places for people to play, learn, contemplate, build community, and experience nature.

  2. Tree Canopy

    Preserve and maintain trees, maximize benefits and increase community engagement in taking care of trees.

  3. Stewardship

    Engage the whole community in sustaining and enhancing our parks, natural areas, and trees.

 GOALPROGRESS
Green Space 1 acre of open space per 100 residents .75 acres of parkland per 100 residents (2012 data)
All residents live within 1/4 mile of a park 83% of residents live within 1/4 mile of a park (as of 2010)
100% level of service for care of Seattle's green spaces 58% level of service for green spaces in 2013
Tree Canopy 30% tree canopy cover by 2037 23% canopy cover as of 2007
2,500 acres of forested parkland restored by 2025 1,000 acres of forested parkland in restoration
Stewardship Increase volunteers caring for natural areas and trees 17% increase in Parks volunteers between 2011 and 2013
Plant 1,800 trees in neighborhoods annually through community partnerships. 1,811 City-funded trees were planted in yards or planting strips in 2013.