The aim of the Atlanta Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) study is to help city decision-makers and stakeholders better understand and manage their forest resources by quantifying the existing tree canopy in the City of Atlanta. Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) is defined as the layer of leaves, branches and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. The research team identified and measured the existing tree canopy in the City of Atlanta through the analysis of high resolution, multi-spectral, “leaf-on” Quickbird satellite imagery obtained by the city in October 2008 from Digital Globe Inc.

Specific goals for this assessment were to (1) map urban tree canopy and other land cover across the City; (2) quantify tree cover for various geographies within the city (neighborhoods, NPUs, council districts, parks, zoning and land use, watersheds, stream buffers); (3) establish a baseline for measuring canopy change over time; (4) identify planting sites; and (5) summarize and make recommendations based on findings.

Canopy Distribution Across the City

  • The majority of tree canopy within Atlanta’s city limits (77%-31,194 acres) is on single-family residential land. Single-family land makes up 60.8% of the city’s total land area.
  • Multi-family residential land contains the second highest amount of the city’s total canopy (8% ), followed by industrial (6%); these categories make up 9.4 % and 11.8% of the city’s total land area, respectively. 
  • Parks contain approximately 4.9% (2,070 acres) of the city’s total tree canopy; park land makes up 4.5% of the city’s total area.


City of Atlanta
Project Lead: 
Project Type: 
Sustainable Urbanization