Urban Tree Canopy in California

This interactive viewer shows urban tree canopy in California. Its purpose is to help communities capture community services from trees. A tree’s canopy cover - its leaves, branches, and stems that provide the tree coverage of the ground when viewed from above - is a driving force behind numerous environmental, social, and economic services.

Communities plant trees for numerous reasons. These include reducing summer peak temperatures, improving air quality, reducing stormwater run-off, enhancing property values, providing wildlife habitat, and strengthening social connections in neighborhood. Understanding the extent and location of its existing tree canopy can help a community design and implement sound management practices to maximize those services: prioritizing locations for tree planting, establishing urban forestry master plans and sustainability plans, and managing threats to canopy loss.

The map viewer also highlights population and environmental characteristics that can help identify communities disproportionately burdened by risks that urban tree cover may help ameliorate.

California’s urban tree canopy covers 19% of the state's urban areas. It is estimated to contain 173 million trees; the annual value of ecosystem services from these trees has been estimated at $8.3 billion and the urban forest asset has been valued at $181 billion (McPherson, E., et al 2017).


The tree canopy layer was created by EarthDefine, under contract with the USDA Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE). The layers of population and environmental characteristics were derived from CalEnviroScreen 3.0 (Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment), and calculations of the Urban Heat Island Index are from the California Environmental Protection Agency.

References Cited 

McPherson, E. Gregory; Xiao, Qingfu; van Doorn, Natalie S.; de Goede, John; Bjorkman, Jacquelyn; Hollander, Allan; Boynton, Ryan M.; Quinn, James F.; Thorne, James H. 2017. The structure, function and value of urban forests in California communities. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 28: 43-53.