A digital tour of the city’s tree canopy


Now that the leaves are (mostly) raked, bagged or mulched it’s a good time to reflect on the “tree canopy” that is so essential this community’s character, beauty, property values and air quality.  The mapping study of the Minneapolis tree canopy, now available online, offers an intriguing tool for studying the tree canopy of the city, your neighborhood, industrial areas.  Though the study is really designed for planners, including neighborhoods, to target resources, the tool is simple for the curious as well as the serious user.  The full study is posted online.

The study that created the mapping tool was conducted by the University of Minnesota Remote Sensing and Geogspatial Analysis Laboratory for the city of Minneapolis.  The statistics are fascinating in and of themselves.  For example, in Minneapolis 979,000 trees cover 32% of the city.  The majority of Minneapolis trees are green ash (14.4%), Sugar maple (13.3%), Norway maple (11.8%), littleleaf linden (10.4%) and the American elm (9.9%)  Who know!

Because urban trees are such an important resource, the city’s tree canopy is tracked as part of the annual Minneapolis Sustainability Indicators.  That website has a whole section on Mapping the Canopy. The City and Park and Rec work together to maintain a healthy urban forest.

The City of Minneapolis includes links to further research on all of this and much more, including a very helpful listing of resources on the care and upkeep of urban trees – everything you ever wanted to know about planting, pruning, watering, dealing with insects and diseases including the Emerald Ash Borer.  One key link is to the Forestry Division of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Though I freely admit that I got only as far as the interactive map that alone offered a visual and understandable overview of the canopy for the total non-arborist.  Manipulating the map was far more informative – and more fun – than gathering the fall manifestation of those beautiful trees. The map made me realize anew just what an important resource this “tree canopy” is, even when the boughs are bare.  Truth to tell, a snow laden tree in winter is a beautiful sight to contemplate – and then there is that first fragile green of spring….I can see it now.