The City of Fayetteville received final results from the 2012 Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) Assessment in December 2012. The assessment is a city-wide study that evaluated current characteristics of Fayetteville’s tree canopy, identified potential tree planting areas, and developed tools for incorporating urban forest benefits during policy and planning processes.
Funded in part by the Arkansas Forestry Commission through a grant from the USDA Forest Service, Fayetteville was one of five Arkansas cities that participated in an urban tree canopy assessment grant.
Urban tree canopy assessments quantify the percentage of tree canopy coverage of a given area. In populated areas, tree canopy cover relates directly to air quality, storm water management, ecosystem balance, and quality of life benefits.
Reason for Participation
Fayetteville’s UTC assessment was completed in accordance with Chapter 167: Tree Preservation & Protection, which requires the City to conduct a UTC assessment every 10 years with the first to be completed by the end of 2012. Data gathered from the assessment may be used to inform UTC goals, prioritize locations for tree planting efforts, establish urban forestry master plans, understand patterns of environmental justice, inform sustainability plans, and justify budget increases for urban forestry. Further, it allows Fayetteville to quantify several benefits of urban trees, some of which are noted in the paragraph above.
Overall Tree Canopy Cover: Fayetteville has 36% urban tree canopy cover based on 2010 imagery.
Net Gain / Loss in tree canopy: Fayetteville had a net loss of approximately 1.5% UTC since 2002.
Stormwater value: Fayetteville's tree canopy is valued at an estimated $64 million based on avoided stormwater facility construction costs.
Air pollution benefits: Fayetteville's urban forest removes nearly 1.3 million pounds of air pollutants from the air annually, which is valued at $3.5 million per year.
2002 Urban Ecosystem Analysis
In 2000 - 2002 American Forests conducted an urban ecosystem analysis of Northwest Arkansas using satellite imagery and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to assess tree cover change trends over the last 15 years and to create a "green data layer" to be used for future planning.
The 1.4 million acre analysis covered Benton and Washington Counties including the NWA Regional Airport and the City of Fayetteville.
At the time of this analysis the Northwest Arkansas region was on the brink of major development. This urban ecosystem analysis paved the way for the region to plan with the environment and gain the economic benefits of the area's urban forest. As community leaders plan for future development, the information and tools provided in this project will become even more useful as this study will serve as a bench mark for future studies to compare tree canopy change over time.