The State of Bloomington's Urban Forest

Our work at CanopyBloomington is guided by the findings in the 2019 Bloomington Urban Tree Canopy Report prepared by Davey Resource Group for the City of Bloomington. Read the report here.

Main Takeaways 

  • The current tree canopy coverage in Bloomington is 38%. Our attainable tree canopy is 61%, making the area available to plant around 23% across both private and public land. Within the available planting area, 16% is designated as high or very high priority areas for planting trees.

  • Most of the decrease in canopy cover over the last decade has occurred on private land. 

  • Bloomington's trees annually sequester 28,000 tons of carbon, remove 470,000 pounds of air pollutants, and manage 90.6 million gallons of storm water runoff, an annual economic value to Bloomington of $1.9 million.

A Closer Look

Bloomington Zoning Canopy Change
Bloomington Zoning Canopy Change

 Canopy Change 

The figure to the left shows canopy cover change from 2008 to 2018 on a zoning-level scale. This is the finest level scale the Davey Resource Group assessed in their 2019 report prepared for the City of Bloomington. To look at other geographical levels of canopy change such as at the neighborhood or census tract level, visit our Urban Tree & Canopy Map page. To summarize Davey's findings:

  • 45.2% of zoning districts are experiencing a loss in canopy

  • 63.1% of neighborhood associations are experiencing a loss in canopy

  • 56.0% of census tracts are experiencing a loss in canopy

 Priority Planting Levels 

The figures to the right show priority planting levels and current canopy cover in example residential communities. Davey Resource Group assessed priority planting levels across all private and public land within city limits. Most of the high and very high priority planting levels are designated on private, residential land where the City themselves cannot plant trees due to their restriction to public land. Through our organization, residential land offers a new opportunity to help the City reach its canopy cover goals and to ensure our urban forest is sustainable, resilient, and plentiful for years to come. Most of the canopy cover that has been lost over the last decade has been on residential land, and now we have the chance to begin growing it back!

Eastern Heights/Grandview Hills
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Barclay Gardens/Arden Place
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Highland Village
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 Heat Intensity and Canopy Cover 

The figure to the left shows 2018 canopy cover data layered on top of heat index data obtained from a study conducted by IU's Environmental Resilience Institute. The red areas represent the hottest areas in Bloomington. There is a clear pattern between lack of trees and islands of heat. Urban heat islands are areas within a community that are significantly hotter than others, which can be attributed to more impermeable surfaces and buildings that absorb and retain heat. By providing shade and transpiration, trees can help lower temperatures in heat islands and reduce health risks associated with them such as heat exhaustion, respiratory difficulties, and exacerbation of other preexisting chronic illnesses.

City of Bloomington Urban Forestry & Climate Action Plans

Urban Forest Plan Goals

1

Maintain tree health

"To maintain the health of the existing 12,000+ street trees and the future planting of trees in the more than 4,000 vacant tree spaces located on the more than 500 miles of streets in Bloomington."

GOAL

3

Diversify tree species

"To ensure diversification of tree species throughout the City and within each major section of the City, as a key measure to ensure the health of the urban forest."

GOAL

5

Uphold Tree City USA status

"To maintain Tree City USA status for the City."

GOAL

7

Plant the right tree in the

right place!

"To designate appropriate new and replacement tree species for specific locations based on the species' aesthetic interest, adaptability to the streetscape environment, size of the planting space, presence of overhead and underground utilities, and ease of long-term maintenance."

GOAL

2

Increase community engagement and input

"To incorporate citizen and neighborhood input into the planning process to establish a list of pre-approved replacement tree species to be planted when a street tree has to be removed."

GOAL

4

Fill all viable planting spaces

"To ensure that each planting space in the City is planted, conditions permitting."

GOAL

6

Keep up-to-date tree emergency plan

"To implement and keep up to date a tree emergency plan."

GOAL

Read the full Bloomington Urban Forestry Plan on the City's website here

Climate Action Plan Section 08: Greenspace & Ecosystem Health

GOAL G1.

Increase quantity and quality of greenspace within the community.

Strategies:

A. Establish city greenspace plans integrating findings and goals of Climate Action Plan.

B. Improve the connectivity and functionality of greenspaces within the city.

GOAL G3.

Increase citywide tree canopy coverage by 3% of 2018 values.

Strategies:

A. Establish city plans and policies in support of tree canopy and ground cover goals.

B. Support and empower community partners, businesses and residents in meeting tree canopy goals.

GOAL G2.

Increase quantity and quality of climate adaptive native habitats.

Strategies: 

A. Create and expand native habitat policies and infrastructure.

B. Increase the use of native species and pollinator restoration areas.

GOAL G4.

Reduce stormwater and micro heat island impacts.

Strategies:

A. Reduce impervious surfaces.

B. Increase water uptake capacity of greenspace.

All text acquired directly from the City of Bloomington's Climate Action Plan. Please visit https://bloomington.in.gov/sustainability/2020-climate-action-plan for the full text.