Cities and Communities in the U.S. Losing 36 Million Trees a Year

According to a recent study by the USDA Forest Service, between 2009 and 2014, tree cover in the Nation’s urban/community areas declined by 0.7 percent or an estimated 36 million trees. That’s approximately 175,000 acres of tree cover annually. To put that into perspective, Central Park in New York City is about 840 acres. This means that every year, US cities are losing over 208 Central Parks.

States or districts with the greatest annual net percent loss in urban/community tree cover were Rhode Island and the District of Columbia (minus 0.44 percent), Georgia (minus 0.40 percent), and Alabama and Nebraska (minus 0.32 percent each). States with the greatest annual net loss in tree cover were Georgia (minus 18,830 acre/year), Florida (minus 18,060 acre/year) and Alabama (minus 12,890 acre/year).

Three states – Mississippi, Montana and New Mexico – had slight, non-significant increases in urban/community tree cover. Nationally, Maine has the highest percent tree cover in urban/community areas with 68 percent tree cover. At 10 percent tree cover, North Dakota ranked as having the lowest percent urban/community tree cover.

As of 2010, urban land occupied 3 percent, or 68 million acres, of the United States, while urban/community land occupied just over 6 percent of the United States, or 141 million acres.

Overall, urban/community impervious cover had a statistically significant increase from 14.5 percent to 15.1 percent (an increase of 0.6 percent), States with the greatest annual net percent increase in impervious cover were Delaware (0.28 percent), Iowa (0.26 percent), and Colorado, Kansas and Ohio (0.24 percent each). States with the greatest annual net increase in impervious cover were Texas (17,590 acre/year), Florida (13,900 acre/year) and Ohio (8,670 acre/year).

You can read the report from the USDA at this link; https://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/jrnl/2018/nrs_2018_nowak_005.pdf