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Shoreline tree canopy has increased by 21% since 2009

Post Date:09/04/2018 11:42 am

Based on our most recent urban tree canopy assessment, Shoreline’s tree canopy has increased by 21% since 2009. Maintaining a healthy urban forest is vital to our community. In 2014, City Council adopted an Urban Forest Strategic Plan with Priority 1 being “[a]chiev[ing] climate appropriate degree of tree cover, community-wide.” In 2009, the tree canopy cover for Shoreline was 30.6%. The Strategic Plan states that “is an acceptable amount of canopy to realize ecosystem benefits.” 

One of the implementation strategies included in the Strategic Plan is to complete an urban tree canopy assessment every six to ten years. We completed the last tree canopy assessment seven years ago in 2011 based on 2009 data. The 2009 data established a baseline to help shape policy decisions regarding Shoreline’s urban forest. Earlier this year, we hired a consultant (Plan-It GEO) to complete an urban tree canopy assessment based on 2017 data. 

The primary goals of our most recent assessment are to compare tree canopy change over an eight-year time period, to provide an update to the baseline, and to offer insights as to how, where, and why Shoreline’s urban tree canopy has been changing since it was originally assessed in 2011 (using source data representing conditions in 2009.)

Results of the recent assessment indicate that there has been movement from impervious surface to tree canopy in the City of Shoreline since 2009. Urban tree canopy increased by 474 acres (21%) between 2009 and 2017.

 Type of Land Coverage  2009  2017 Percent Change
 Acres   Percent  Acres  Percent
 Urban Tree Canopy  2,270   31%    2,744   37%   21%
 Shrub, grass, water, other  1,715  23%  1,632  22%  -5%
 Impervious Surface   3,427  46%  3,041  41%  -11%

Over the next six years, we will see a significant number of trees come down as part of light rail development. However, working with Sound Transit, the City has ensured that significantly more trees will be planted than will be lost. In 2017, approximately 1,009 acres of land (14% of the total) not presently occupied by tree canopy were assessed to be suitable for future tree plantings. These areas provide opportunity for further expanding tree canopy in Shoreline.
While our tree canopy is currently meeting our targets, that does not mean we should stop planting trees. In order to maintain the long-term health of our urban forest, we must continually plant new trees to replace those that will be lost due to age, redevelopment, or other reasons.

2018 Citywide Tree Canopy Assessment