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Seattle's Canopy Cover

Seattle's skyline includes trees

Canopy cover is the percent of the city that's covered by trees, as seen in an aerial view. Canopy cover is an important management tool for the City to understand the extent and distribution of trees in Seattle. Seattle's goal, established in 2007, is to reach 30% canopy cover by 2037.

2016 Canopy Cover Study

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

  • The majority of our urban trees are 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 are often present in parks but are also on residential and institutional lands.
  • Canopy exceeds targets in developed parks, natural areas, multi-family, and institutional areas; is close to target in single-family, downtown, and commercial areas; and is below target in industrial areas.
  • Canopy cover differs 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 have lower amounts of tree canopy.
  • 72% of Seattle’s tree canopy is deciduous and 28% is coniferous. Most (52%) of the conifers are on single-family land.
  • The presence of trees can reduce urban head island (surface temperature), especially inland, and mitigate extreme heat impacts.
  • 6% of Seattle’s tree canopy is within the clearance distance Seattle City Light maintains for safety and reliability of the power grid.

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.

For more information:

2007 Canopy Cover Study

Download the 2007 canopy cover report (pdf, 2.2 MB)

Download a presentation about the 2007 results (pdf, 3 MB)

Clarification of Canopy Cover Assessment Statistics (2007) (pdf)

Questions about canopy cover? Email treesforseattle@seattle.gov

 

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