Mapping Tree Cover Change in Worcester in the Context of Land Ownership: the case for an improved tree retention ordinance.

Authors: Valeria Chavez*, Clark University, John Rogan, Clark University , Nicholas Geron, Clark University, Marc Healy, Clark University
Topics: Remote Sensing, Urban Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Urban Heat Island, tree loss, tree retention, Worcester, thermal remote sensing
Session Type: Virtual Guided Poster
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 53
Presentation File: Download



Urban tree cover and greenspaces are a form of green infrastructure that cities have adopted to address the issue of climate change adaptation. In this context, tree cover loss in cities has received broad attention whereas the factors associated with the retention of existing greenspaces and canopy cover have been overlooked. However, the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect literature points to the importance of tree retention in cities for the potential mitigation of extreme temperatures. This paper addresses this research gap by mapping tree cover loss and retention in the City of Worcester, MA, at the neighborhood level, between 2010 and 2015 in the context of public versus private land ownership. The relationship between tree retention and land ownership will be determined using GIS tax parcel data provided by the City of Worcester. The findings will highlight the location of tree cover retention compared to loss and gain at the neighborhood levels. This information will be then interpreted in the context of environmental justice geography and inform a new City-wide tree retention ordinance. Initial results show a greater loss of tree cover and proportionally lower tree retention in privately owned land (4.72 km2 of loss, 75% retention) than in publicly owned land (0.31 km2, 88% retention).

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