Recent Progress: No Change
In this outcome, urban tree canopy is broadly defined as tree plantings in communities of any size—including urban, suburban and rural—that are not on agricultural lands. Each watershed jurisdiction will have its own annual and long-term planning targets that will contribute to the 2,400 acre-goal. While these jurisdictions do report urban tree planting data to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most do not yet have comprehensive or consistent tracking, reporting or verification systems in place. Furthermore, a high-resolution aerial tree canopy assessment—which would track net gain or loss of tree canopy over time—is still in the process of being completed for the entire watershed. As such, a more robust estimate of the baseline for this outcome is being developed.
Outlook: Off Course
The Tree Canopy Outcome is off course from being met by 2025. While the first official update for the tree canopy indicator is pending due to best management practice progress data and land use change data to be finalized, draft data indicates that tree canopy losses across the watershed are significantly outpacing gains. From 2014-2020, the six watershed states and the District of Columbia reported around 5,500 acres of trees planted on developed lands (approximately 1.6 million trees). Despite this progress, the initial version of the Chesapeake Bay High Resolution Land Cover Project (released in 2016 and reflecting the time period of 2013-2014) and draft data from the updated dataset (to be released in 2022, reflecting the time period 2017-2018) show a net loss of over 31,000 acres of tree canopy on developed/developing lands. As this is the first time that the Forestry Workgroup has had access to comprehensive data on tree canopy gains and losses, a Tree Canopy Funding and Policy Roundtable with state and local leaders is planned for 2022 to develop solutions focused on climate resilience and equity to stem future losses and accelerate gains.
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 2021.
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