Kirkland Reaches 40% Goal of Urban Tree Canopy Coverage Thanks to Annexation

Results show that Kirkland’s tree canopy coverage increased from slightly under 32% to 36% within Kirkland’s pre-annexation boundaries. When considering the recently- annexed area’s more heavily forested areas, the City meets its 40% tree canopy coverage goal established by the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

The following news release is from the City of Kirkland:

This summer, the City of Kirkland completed its first comprehensive Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) assessment which measured Kirkland’s tree canopy coverage and analyzed trends in canopy gains and losses. Despite development pressure within the region, Kirkland had a net gain in tree canopy between 2002 and 2010, compared to more substantial canopy loss of nearby cities.

The City contracted AMEC Earth & Environmental, an environmental engineering firm, to complete the GIS mapping project. AMEC used both aerial photo and satellite imagery of the City from 2002 and 2010 in different land use categories. Working closely with the City’s GIS staff, the imagery was further analyzed within six zoning categories, including the public right-of-way and Kirkland’s 15 drainage basins.

Results show that Kirkland’s tree canopy coverage increased from slightly under 32% to 36% within Kirkland’s pre-annexation boundaries. When considering the recently- annexed area’s more heavily forested areas, the City meets its 40% tree canopy coverage goal established by the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The largest gains in canopy were within the commercial, multifamily residential, and public right-of-way categories with 5.4%, 7.1%, and 6.9% increases respectively. The data provides a baseline for future canopy monitoring and to calculate the cost-benefits of Kirkland’s urban forest.

Trees are a valuable natural resource to the City of Kirkland that provide multiple benefits including stormwater runoff reduction, pollutant removal, carbon sequestration and other valuable ecosystem functions. It has also been shown that trees enhance property values. Measuring tree canopy is a scientific method to gauge the effectiveness and performance of a sustainable urban forest and a healthy environment.

The results of the project were presented to the Kirkland City Council on June 21, 2011. City Council, through its adopted goal statement on the environment, has committed itself to providing natural resources management in order to “protect our natural environment for current residents and future generations.”

The project was funded through the support of the USDA Forest Service and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program.

For more information about the study or please contact Deb Powers, Urban Forester, 425-587-3261,dpowers@kirklandwa.gov or visit Kirkland’s webpage at www.kirklandwa.gov (Search: Trees).