JP Has Highest Tree Canopy, According to City

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Jamaica Plain and surrounding neighborhoods in southwestern Boston have the highest tree canopies in the city.

Valentina Iacobciuc (left) and Elena Fevraleva frolic in the Conifer Collection at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University while on break from their nursing work at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. Photos by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Generally speaking, the tree canopy is the part of the city shaded by trees.

The city recently released a tree canopy assessment for 2014-2019. This year's worth of analysis is from high-quality, high resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) images captured during airplane flyovers of Boston, according to a press release. Boston's Parks and Recreation Department commissioned the report to understand which areas have the most potential for increased tree cover, and analyze how the city's canopy cover has changed.

JP and surrounding neighborhoods benefit from all the open space and parks in the area such as the Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond, Forest Hills Cemetery, Franklin Park, and more. Our local tree canopy also benefits from "early horticultural planning and establishment of trees within the Emerald Necklace Park System and surrounding residential areas."

However, the report says Jamaica Plain has experienced canopy loss. The larger neighborhoods of Dorchester and West Roxbury both added and lost the most acres of tree canopy, followed by Hyde Park and Jamaica Plain. JP saw a pattern of net losses on residential land.

Area tree canopy gain and loss by neighborhood.

Tree Canopy Assessment Report key findings include:
  • Boston's tree canopy has remained relatively stable from 2014 to 2019 at 27% of all city land area.
  • Tree canopy loss varies from backyard individual tree removal to the clearing of wooded areas for new construction. More tree canopy was lost on residential land than any other land use type.
  • Boston's investments in the planting, care, and maintenance of its street trees are paying off, as evidenced by the 23 acres of new tree canopy within the right-of-way.
  • Tree planting and preservation efforts are effective and pay greater dividends as trees mature.
  • Land use history, decisions by individual property owners, and new construction all play a role in influencing the current state of tree canopy in Boston. Understanding these factors and identifying strategies to mitigate them will help us focus City efforts on addressing disparities in access to green space.

"Through this report and the release of Boston's RFP to create an Urban Forest Plan, Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston are committed to fighting climate change, and ensuring we take tree canopy cover seriously across all our neighborhoods," said Boston Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner Ryan Woods.

The Urban Forest Plan has been budgeted $500,000 to establish a new vision to make sure Boston's tree canopy goals align with the goals of Imagine Boston 2030 and Climate Ready Boston, while also developing the supporting policy and programs for implementation of this vision.

Click here to read the full report.