Urban green spaces and forestry have a multitude of benefits ranging from cognitive development and mental health to decreased crime rates, lower energy costs, and cleaner air. They also offer shelter for wildlife, boosting local biodiversity.
The following US cities have taken urban forestry in stride and boast some of the most impressive green spaces within an urban setting.
Right now, Austin has more than 33 million trees that cover 18 percent of the city. The city features a diverse tree canopy and an urban forest management “master plan.” Private companies also take part in supporting tree-planting campaigns with the goal of saving energy and protecting the environment.
Just south of the urban area of south Dallas, Texas, is the Great Trinity Forest, which is recognized as the largest urban forest in the US.
Charlotte, North Carolina
There are a number of large parks in Uptown Charlotte, including the 5.4-acre Romare Bearden Park, 4.6-acre First Ward Park, 5.5-acre Marshall Park, and 16.5-acre Frazier Park. The city also features many tree-lined streets, which it estimates saves over $900,000 in energy savings every year.
Although not a city, this state largest man-made forest in the US: Nebraska National Forest. The 141,864-acre forest expands over many counties within the state of Nebraska.
New York, New York
Last year, New York City had 44,509 acres of urban tree canopy consisting of 5.2 million trees and 168 different species. As of 2020, 24 percent of its land was covered in trees, 19.5 percent of which is parklands that are maintained by a series of management plans, including several that focus on green infrastructure and wetlands.
Portland, a city known for its parks, bicycle paths, and bridges, has a 5,000-plus-acre park that features 70 miles of trails and a botanical garden that is home to almost 1,000 species of trees and shrubs.
Sacramento isn’t known as the “City of Trees” for no reason. It’s home to a tree-planting culture with its roots in the mid-19th century as a way for Gold Rush-era settlers to deal with the scorching heat. The native oak trees were cut down to build homes, so the settlers decided to plant familiar trees from their homes in the Midwest and East. These included maples, elms, and plane trees.
Over the years other exotic species were added, like Chinese pistache, zelkova, liquidambar, Japanese maples, and more. Now, 20 percent of Sacramento is covered in leafy trees.
The US capital complements its many monuments and memorials with 17,000 trees. Washington is also home to the nation’s first urban park, called Rock Creek Park, which makes up part of the 7,000 acres of the city’s parkland.