Older residential areas have nearly twice as much tree cover, study finds

The smaller gardens typical of modern housing developments tend to reduce overall tree canopy cover, a study of an English town has concluded.

Image: Micolo J (CC BY 2.0)
Image: Micolo J (CC BY 2.0)

New developments are "one of the biggest threats to and greatest opportunities for urban forests", according to Stephen Shields and Duncan Slater of Myerscough College's Department of Greenspace.

Writing in the Arboricultural Journal, Shields and Slater added those threats "have not been analysed in depth".

The artilce compared tree cover in residential areas Shrewsbury from three different eras using i-tree ECO software. They found that pre-1950 residential housing areas had significantly greater canopy cover (17.8%) than both 1951-1985 housing (13.1%) and post-1985 housing areas (9.9%).

"Analysis of tree age, size and ownership distributions identified that larger growing garden trees in the earlier housing schemes were the major contributor to this difference in canopy cover between areas," they concluded.

"There is a negative trend in urban canopy cover that relates to the size of garden space allocated to more modern residential properties, which is not sufficiently compensated for by tree planting in adjacent public areas."

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