By LARRY LANGE
SPECIAL TO SEATTLEPI.COM
Seattle is losing trees in its parks and urban forests, the last places you might think that would happen.
The trend, picked up by a recent study of the city's tree canopy, results from an aging public forest that's dying, being slowly choked by invasive plants or killed by disease.The finding about parks deviates from the study conclusion that, city-wide, Seattle's tree canopy -- the percentage of in-city ground covered by trees and their leafy branches -- had grown slightly over five years.
Statistics showing the decline in the parks and natural areas appear in a report summarizing results of a 2009 study that analyzed the amount of tree cover above Seattle's landscape.
The report said the canopy in developed parks and boulevards declined from 25.3 per cent in 2002 to 24.6 percent in 2007. Tree cover at city-owned natural areas like greenbelts declined from 82.7 percent in 2002 to 80.8 percent in 2007.
The study said that meant there were 60 fewer acres of parks and natural that were shaded or protected by trees in 2007. That's a reduction equal to an area three times the size of the Safeco Field site.
The estimate was contained in a 2009 study done for the city Parks & Recreation Department by a Colorado consultant, using satellite imaging and geographic information system data.