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Can you help us to map tree canopy cover for urban areas across the UK?

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Tree canopy cover is a useful metric in describing urban forest extent (Kate Sparrow, 2020)
Tree canopy cover is a useful metric in describing urban forest extent (Kate Sparrow, 2020)

Trees for Cities, Brillianto and Forest Research are hosting a citizen science project to map the canopy cover of the UK’s towns and cities. Help us to build this canopy cover map by measuring the canopy cover in your local area!

Canopy cover is the area of ground covered by tree leaves and branches. It’s usually expressed as a percentage and can be used to indicate the extent of urban forests and tree cover within a specified area. It’s a widely adopted metric that is easy to understand, and also gives an indication of the distribution of trees and their associated benefits.

The results of the project are displayed on the webmap and are publicly accessible.  (Forest Research, 2020)
The results of the project are displayed on the webmap and are publicly accessible. (Forest Research, 2020)

Urban trees provide a multitude of benefits to people and the environment. These ‘ecosystem services’ include storing and sequestering carbon, filtering air pollution, reducing surface water run-off and enhancing the aesthetic of our built environment. As such, it’s important to ensure that there are enough trees to continuously provide these benefits. By understanding the variation in canopy cover, this can aid in developing a strategic approach to tree planting within our towns and cities.

Logo: Brillianto
Logo: Trees for Cities

To help us map canopy cover, you’ll need to make use of a free online tool called i-Tree Canopy. On our website you’ll find a step by step guide which will take you through the process. All in all, the canopy cover assessment should take around 45 minutes, and will be much quicker than this once you get your eye in! We’ll then need you to send us your results via email, and once received we’ll upload them to the webmap.

Currently, average urban canopy cover is approximately 16%, and over 50% of all urban electoral wards have been completed, including cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol! This is amazing progress in such a short period of time, but we would absolutely love to complete the rest of the UK! So far, we’ve had over 180 participants in the project including tree officers, tree wardens and other voluntary groups too. However, you don’t have to be a tree specialist to get involved, and we’ve had participants as young as 8 get stuck into assessing canopy cover!

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, click here where you’ll also find our user guide if you would like to have a go at doing an assessment.

To view the results collected so far, please take a look at the webmap at the following address: http://forestry.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=d8c253ab17e1412586d9774d1a09fa07

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