Davey Resource Group completed an urban forest assessment for the city of Louisville that was released in 2015. Like many U.S. cities, Louisville’s urban canopy is declining.
Louisville has been losing about 820 acres of tree canopy (54,000 trees) annually. That moved them from 40% canopy cover in 2004 down to 37% in 2012. This doesn’t even account for the loss of ash trees to emerald ash borer (EAB). Ash trees may comprise about 10% to 17% of the suburban and rural forests, according to the Kentucky Division of Forestry, meaning that thousands of trees in and around the city will be lost in the next few years. It’s projected that if steps aren’t taken to reverse the downward trend, Louisville’s tree canopy could decline to 21% by 2052.
At its current level, Louisville’s urban forest provides $330 million in ecosystems benefits annually, including intercepting 18 billion gallons of stormwater, and in removing air pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone and particulate matter. The city’s urban trees over their lifetime store $230 million in carbon.
The assessment lays out two important goals: 1) “no net loss” of trees in five years; and 2) increasing canopy to 40% or 45%. The assessment set out scenarios for achieving higher canopy coverage. To achieve 40% canopy would require 7,319 acres of canopy cover; 45% would be 20,041 acres of canopy cover.
NewTerrain June 15, 2016.