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State of the Dallas Urban Forest

A Study of Dallas' Urban Forest From March 2015

State of the Dallas Urban Forest Report Overview

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Dallas’ urban forest is comprised of the individual trees and groves in and around the places we live, work and play. Urban forest assessment provides a baseline from which to measure changes, trends and outcomes. Sound urban forest management includes tree maintenance, policy development and budgetary decisions – based upon understanding the current conditions.

The State of the Dallas Urban Forest Report is the first of its kind to focus on our most vital natural resource – trees.

Results have advanced our understanding of Dallas’ urban forest and provide the framework for quantifying the value of the urban tree canopy to make informed decisions for the future. This data illustrates how trees impact the environment and enhance both human health and the quality of life throughout Dallas and the region.

Study Highlights

  • The 14.7 million trees within the City limits have a replacement value of $9.02 billion.
  • There are nearly 1.8 million potential tree planting sites throughout Dallas.
  • Trees provide annual savings of over $9 million through energy conservation.
  • Trees capture 59 million cubic feet of stormwater runoff and save $4 million annually  in repairs and additions to current stormwater management infrastructure.
  • Trees clean the air by storing two million tons of carbon valued at $137 million.
  • Dallas’ trees provide $36.1 million annually in eco-system services.
  • Over 35% of the surface area in Dallas is covered with impervious surface such as buildings, cement, roads, and parking lots.
  • Over 25% of the surface area is covered in irrigated turf.
  • The City’s average tree canopy is 29%.
  • The area South of I-30 represents 37% of the total tree canopy.
  • The Great Trinity Forest accounts for nearly 20% of all tree benefits and covers  one-sixth of the total area.

Dallas Urban Tree Canopy

Urban tree canopy (UTC) is the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. Researchers estimate that tree canopy cover in urban and metropolitan areas across the U.S. averages 27% and 33%, respectively (Dwyer and Nowak, 2000).

Additionally, trees are subject to a wide variety of stressors, which significantly shortens their lifespan. The i-Tree Eco Study revealed that Dallas’ urban forest has 14.7 million trees with a UTC of 29%. This equates to 62.4 trees per acre.

However, like many urban areas cities, Dallas’ trees are not evenly distributed throughout the city. Nearly half of all trees are in the Great Trinity Forest: 46% of the entire canopy. The remaining 54% of the canopy is heavily concentrated in areas zoned for residential and park land. Some commercially zoned parcels in Dallas have a UTC of less than 5%.

With such a large portion of the city’s tree canopy focused in specifically zoned areas, it is important for Dallas to take steps to protect and enhance the urban forests by setting canopy goals. There is a strong correlation between land use and canopy cover.

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