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.

The City's long-term goal is to increase tree canopy cover from 23% to 30% by 2037.

Seattle's Urban Forest Management Plan provides a long term vision for increasing tree canopy cover (the percent of the city covered by trees as seen in an aerial view) and the myriad environmental, social, and economic benefits associated with trees in urban areas. The plan is implemented through actions ranging from tree care to tree give-aways. 

Every year the City of Seattle evaluates progress toward our goal of increasing tree canopy cover to 30%.  Work is currently underway to re-calculate the city's tree canopy cover based on 2007 satellite data. We plan to update the canopy cover assessment approximately every 5-7 years. Additionally, we track our progress on implementing each year's work plan. Links to the Urban Forest Management Plan progress reports are below.