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Syracuse 2016 State of Urban Forest Shapes Planning

By Conni Kunzler | October 17, 2016

Syracuse, NY (October 3, 2016) – A recently released 2016 State of the Urban Forest report found that Syracuse’s public trees provide an estimated $2 in benefits for every $1 spent on management costs. Here’s how this data — and more — is helping with the City’s master planning process.

Photo courtesy City of Syracuse

Photo courtesy City of Syracuse

While urban forests are an important part of the City’s identity and history, Syracuse has seen a decrease in public trees (street and park) since 1978.

Since 1994, there has been little change in canopy cover but a significant change in species composition; invasive species have proliferated and compromised the ability of segments of the urban forest to provide ecosystem benefits.

According to City Arborist Steve Harris, the report “is perfectly timed with the City’s master planning process. This is especially important since the City is going through the first re-write of the zoning codes since they were adopted over 90 years ago. Since land-use decisions have the greatest impact on the future of the urban forest, it is essential to collaborate with our planning department and the community on how development impacts the urban forest.”

“This report not only tells us what kind of forest we have, but measures its value, and projects how it will change in the future based on trends,” Harris says. “Most importantly, it summarizes this information at the neighborhood level where people live. Not many cities have this amount of information about their urban forest.

The Parks Department will use the information as part of an extensive master planning effort with the community and other departments to determine what we want from our urban forest in the coming decades and how we will get there.”

Here are highlights from the report:

WHO’s GOT CANOPY: Canopy cover varies from 49% in the South Valley neighborhood to 9% downtown.

WHO’s HOT, WHO’s NOT: On an 80-degree day in July 2015 there was a 12-degree difference between surface temperatures in the forested hillsides in the South Valley and downtown. Downtown and Franklin Square are the warmest neighborhoods and South Valley, Elmwood, Meadowbrook, Outer Comstock, and Westcott-University neighborhoods are the coolest.

LAND TYPES WITH THE MOST TREES: Single family homes have the highest density of trees per acre and multi-family homes the least. Single family homes have the highest diversity of trees per acre.

PEST THREATS: Asian long-horned beetle poses a threat to 400,000 of the cities estimated 1.5 million trees!

TREE WITH MOST VALUE: Sugar maples have the highest structural value (the cost to replace a tree of similar size) within the urban forest.

OUTDOOR AIR FILTER: An average acre of tree canopy in Syracuse contributes $1500 in air pollution removal. Pollution removal was greatest for ozone. The best species for removing air pollution are those with the most leaf area. Norway maple, sugar maple, box elder, black walnut, and Norway spruce account for 41% of pollution removal.

CARBON STORAGE AND CAPTURE: An average acre of tree canopy stores a value of $7,400 of carbon and sequesters $200 in carbon value annually. In Syracuse, the 30” and greater diameter trees store three times more carbon than the 27” to 30” diameter trees and over five times more than the 9” to 12” diameter trees. Trees in the South Valley, Meadowbrook, Brighton and North Valley, Westcott-University, and Eastwood neighborhoods sequester the most carbon and remove the most pollution on an annual basis. The Franklin Square, Downtown, Hawley-Green and Prospect Hill, Near Eastside, and South Campus neighborhoods sequester the least amount of carbon and remove the least amount of pollution on an annual basis.

ENERGY SAVINGS: An acre of canopy saves $200 a year via energy conservation.

Read the full article: “Syracuse 2016 State of the Urban Forest,” NYS Urban Forestry Councils Taking Root Blog

See the complete 2016 Syracuse State of the Urban Forest.

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