Changes in Atlanta's Tree Canopy

In 2001, AMERICAN FORESTS conducted a regional study of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area including 775,000 acres centered on the City of Atlanta.

Page 9 of that study includes the photos below showing the dramatic change in tree coverage in both the city limits and outer lying suburbs of Atlanta. The study determined that:

  • heavy tree cover declined from 48% in 1974 to 26% in 1996 (green areas)
  • low canopy areas increased from 44% in 1974 to 71% in 1996 (black areas)
  • average tree cover declined from 45% in 1974 to 29% in 1996

This loss of tree canopy resulted in a 33% increase in stormwater runoff and a loss of 11 million pounds of pollutants removed annually at a value of approximately $28 million per year.

Light green areas on the maps below represent areas of heavy tree cover (> 50%) and black areas represent areas of low tree coverage (< 20%).

Click on the maps below for the full study.