Mar 13, 2024 - News

Report: Franklin County tree coverage improved, but still has room to grow

Data: Columbus & Franklin County Tree Canopy Assessment 2011-2021; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: Columbus & Franklin County Tree Canopy Assessment 2011-2021; Table: Axios Visuals

Franklin County communities need to take action to protect and grow the area's tree coverage, a new environmental report urges.

Why it matters: Columbus has its own tree plan in place, but this countywide study will direct other communities where to target new planting efforts.

What they did: Researchers used aerial tracking technology to map the tree canopy in dozens of cities, villages and townships, comparing data from 2021 and a decade prior.

What they found: Trees covered 24% of the county in 2021, an increase of 2.8% compared to 2011.

  • This surprised study authors, who expected canopy loss due to the infestation of emerald ash borer beetles.

By the numbers: Even the modest increase amounted to a gain of 9,712 net acres of tree coverage — more than five times bigger than OSU's main campus.

  • Franklin County is home to an estimated 13.6 million total trees, or around 10 for every resident.

What's next: Communities should prioritize planting in areas with low canopy and mitigate tree loss resulting from suburban land development, the report suggests.

How Columbus residents can help

Columbusites can do their part to improve the local tree canopy by requesting new trees be planted on their block.

How it works: Residents can ask for new trees via 311 by calling 614-645-3111, emailing [email protected] or filling out an online form.

  • Some of you are already on it — we spotted a handful of tree planting requests from the past few days on the 311 service map.

The big picture: Columbus planted 2,802 trees through 311 service requests between Jan. 1, 2019, and March 11, 2024, the Recreation and Parks Department tells us.

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