Continually increase urban tree canopy capacity to provide air quality, water quality and habitat benefits throughout the watershed. Expand urban tree canopy by 2,400 acres by 2025.
Recent Progress: Decrease
Although initial data shows significant progress has been made in planting over 8,300 acres of urban trees since 2014, the latest land use/land cover change data shows a net loss of over 25,000 acres of tree canopy in urban and community areas between 2013/14 and 2017/18. This net loss moves the Tree Canopy Outcome further from its goal.
While the watershed’s tree canopy has suffered net losses, there has been progress in using the new land use/land cover change data. The U.S. Forest Service and the Forestry Workgroup collaborated with Chesapeake Conservancy, U.S. Geological Survey and other partners to develop a Tree Canopy Status & Change Fact Sheet template, which is being used to produce fact sheets for every county in the watershed. Municipal fact sheets will be produced in 2023. The Forestry Workgroup also secured funding to convene a Tree Canopy Funding & Policy Roundtable for state and local leaders and conducted jurisdiction strategy sessions to prepare for the roundtable, taking place in March 2023.
Outlook: Off Course
The Tree Canopy Outcome is off course from being met by 2025, as demonstrated by the net loss of over 25,000 acres of tree canopy shown in the most recent data. The 8,300 trees planted from 2014 to 2021 are unlikely to show up in the land use change data for 10-15 years after planting because the data are predominantly based on aerial imagery; regardless, the reported tree plantings are not enough to mitigate the losses. Much effort is needed to reverse the trend of net losses and achieve the net gain specified in the outcome.
To achieve this outcome, Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to:
- Supporting training and information-sharing within the urban forestry community;
- Helping partners determine how to develop and fund urban tree canopy programs;
- Expanding community engagement in urban tree canopy implementation;
- Supporting efforts to better incentivize tree canopy planting and protection; and
- Supporting the development of watershed-wide high-resolution urban tree canopy data and other user-friendly tracking and verification systems.
Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome will occur through data related to urban tree plantings and gains or losses of tree canopy over time.
As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, progress toward this outcome was reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in February of 2023. It will be reviewed and discussed by the Management Board again in February 2025.
Logic & Action Plan
Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to taking a series of specific actions that will support the management approaches listed above.
The Forestry Workgroup, which is part of the Water Quality Goal Implementation Team, leads the effort to achieve this outcome. It works in partnership with the Vital Habitats Goal Implementation Team.
Participating partners include:
- Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (State of Delaware)
- Delaware Forest Service (State of Delaware)
- Maryland Forest Service (State of Maryland)
- New York Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Lands and Forests (State of New York)
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
- Virginia Department of Forestry (Commonwealth of Virginia)
- West Virginia Division of Forestry (State of West Virginia)
- Department of Energy and Environment (District of Columbia)
- District Department of Transportation Urban Forestry Administration (District of Columbia)
- Chesapeake Bay Commission
- Forest Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
- National Park Service
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Geological Survey
- Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
- Cacapon Institute