The Benefits of the Urban Tree Canopy

Urban tree canopy provides many benefits such as cooling and air pollution mitigation. The extent to which individual trees contribute to these services depends on their species and size. However, city-wide studies often investigate canopy cover as a dichotomy, differentiating only whether a space is covered by trees or not. Given that the need for canopy cover and the ecosystem services it provides is increasing with climate change, it is important to improve our understanding of the urban canopy at fine scales, especially by linking canopy change to the identities and forms of the trees on the ground. In this study, led by Cary Institute postdoc Dr. Elsa Anderson, BES researchers demonstrated that canopy gains and losses are related to fine-scale features such as tree species composition and physical form. Furthermore, these patterns highlight the risks and opportunities for promoting resilient canopy cover across Baltimore.