Asheville Urban Tree Canopy Study looks at canopy loss and opportunities to preserve it

Asheville skyline and trees



A just completed Urban Tree Canopy Study determined that there has been a 6.4% loss in tree canopy in the City of Asheville in the past decade. Commissioned by the City’s Public Works Department in coordination with the Tree Commission, the study identifies the change in tree canopy coverage over the entire city of Asheville during a 10-year period (2008-2018).

When we say entire city, we mean the entire city! Satellite imagery was used to photograph every portion of the City’s tree canopy.

The City recognizes the importance of trees and their many benefits to our ecology, such as air quality, carbon reduction, stormwater runoff and pollution control and reducing the effect of heat islands in our City. That’s why the study was commissioned.

The study found that the Asheville tree canopy coverage is 44.5% over the entire city. Those findings are encouraging, following a decade of rapid development.

So how do we measure up as compared to other cities? Favorably. Asheville has an average canopy coverage when compared against other sampled cities, such as Charlotte (47%), Cookeville, Tenn. (40%), Cambridge, MA (30%) and Pittsburg, PA (40%).

Losing any tree canopy is a matter of concern. The Public Works and Development Services departments hope to use the Urban Tree Canopy Study findings to help inform updates to City regulations regarding trees, when and where they may be removed, strategies to saving trees, especially mature trees, and improving tree protection on construction sites.


What happens next

The City is looking to develop an Urban Forest Master Plan, when funding is identified to pay for it. The findings of the Urban Tree Canopy Study lay the groundwork toward a Master Urban Forest Plan. The purpose of a Master Urban Forest Plan is to identify not only ways to preserve the tree canopy but to increase it.

Find a copy of the Urban Tree Canopy Study at this link on the City of Asheville website.

For more information, contact Streets Division Manager Chad Bandy at or 828-259-5431.