Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shady parts of county could become shadier thanks to UVM analysis of tree cover - Montgomery County, MD

Shady parts of county could become shadier

Bethesda and Potomac are some of the shadiest places in Montgomery County, while downtown Silver Spring has the lowest percentage of shadiness.

Using new data on tree canopy coverage, Montgomery County planners are identifying urban areas that need to get shadier.

Montgomery County plans to begin planting trees to increase the tree canopy in urban areas, said Katherine Nelson, a planner coordinator in the Planning Department. Downtown Silver Spring has been identified as the pilot area for a new urban planting program because of its low percentage of existing canopy.

Draft data from 2009 aerial photos taken by a contractor reveal that while the county averages 50 percent canopy coverage, the Silver Spring Central Business District has 14 percent canopy coverage, Nelson said.

A tree canopy is the layer of leaves, branches and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above, Nelson said. Canopy can cover parking lots, roads and buildings.

The assessment of the county's tree canopy coverage was done by the Spatial Analysis Laboratory at the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources, Nelson said. The Montgomery County Planning Department partnered with the City of Takoma Park to participate in a larger analysis for the Baltimore corridor for $12,000.

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