Back in 2008 the USDA Forest Service conducted a survey and study to determine the extent of tree canopy coverage throughout Los Angeles. The study discovered Los Angeles’ existing tree canopy coverage is 21 percent, comparing favorably with 20 percent in Baltimore and 23 percent in New York City. Data also estimated the number of existing trees across Los Angeles numbers around 10.8 million – equaling about 3 trees for every Angeleno.
The interactive Google Map above via KCET’s SoCal Connected displays this 2008 data in color-coded form, with percentages assigned to each city district. One immediately recognizes the disparity in tree canopy coverage between certain sections of Los Angeles. The intensity of color on display demarcates both an affluence in trees and economic wealth, making it clear there is a connection between the two symbols of green: the higher the average income, the more trees lining the streets and inhabiting yards.
Trees will increasingly play an important role as a natural mechanism for improving overall life of the citizenry over the span of decades, especially in relation to climate change and drought here in Southern California. Beyond the beauty of living within a tree-rich environment, benefits also include the buffering of noise pollution, improving air quality, providing habitat for urban wildlife, and the curbing of the effects of urban heat islands. Of course, as any gardener already knows, trying to get a young tree to establish during a time of drought requires patience and a lot of water. But in time, the welfare of established trees far outweigh the initial investment and effort, sometimes over the span of generations depending upon the variety.
Recognizing these beneficial perks to humans and ecosystem, the City of Los Angeles and the DWP are offering residents free trees, some delivered and planted straight to your home. Residents can apply for shade trees, parkway trees (the space between your sidewalk and the street), or even trees in front of businesses. Those who want to meet and pick their tree of choice in person can attend one of the numerous tree adoption events throughout the year by checking this calendar.