Tree Canopy Action Plan






Tree Canopy Action Plan

As Charlotte continues to grow and develop, we need to plan how we’ll sustain the city’s tree canopy.

In 2020, the City of Charlotte embarked on its Tree Canopy Action Plan. The action plan is a companion document to the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, and will better define policies that preserve, restore and enhance the canopy. It will continue the work of past tree-related initiatives, including the 2017 Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP), and guide the upcoming Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

​The action plan includes:

  • Data analysis of Charlotte’s natural environment and tree canopy to identify opportunities and threats

  • Conversations with community partners and residents to build consensus and inform a shared tree canopy strategy

  • Policy creation and guidance for developing tree regulations in the UDO

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Past and current Charlotte canopy initiatives

UFMP

Urban Forest Master Plan

Adopted: Fall 2017

A partnership between the City of Charlotte, TreesCharlotte and the community, the Urban Forest Master Plan laid out key principles and goals for preserving Charlotte’s tree canopy. As one of its action steps, the plan recommended additional study of the impacts from development to assess the effectiveness of the city’s tree policies and the Tree Ordinance. The Tree Canopy Action Plan will explore answers to questions posed in this action step.

Charlotte Future

Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan

Anticipated Adoption: Spring 2021

As the city’s guidance for future land use and growth, the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan has called for a robust community conversation on tree canopy policies. The Tree Canopy Action Plan and UFMP will be incorporated into the broader policy framework in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

tree ordinance

Tree Ordinance Text Amendment for Urban Sites

Fall 2019

As a part of the Unified Development Ordinance, the city’s Tree Ordinance was updated in 2019 to test new approaches for better integration of trees into urban sites. This text amendment provided flexibility for where trees are planted, while preserving the number of code-required trees on urban sites. The dialogue surrounding this update confirmed the need for an analysis of Charlotte’s tree canopy and a community-vetted policy on trees.

Learn more about the City of Charlotte Tree Ordinance here.


UNified development

Unified Development Ordinance

Anticipated Adoption: Fall 2021

The Unified Development Ordinance is a regulatory tool that will consolidate eight different development ordinances, including the Tree Ordinance, and guide development under policies set by 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The Tree Canopy Action Plan will inform additional amendments to the Tree Ordinance as a part of the UDO effort.


Frequently Asked Questions

​Charlotte's tree canopy enhances property values, improves air quality, reduces the effects of pollutants, provides shade, beautifies the community and more. The City of Charlotte and its community partners are committed to maintaining and enhancing this vital community resource.

Community input is key to the Tree Canopy Action Plan. Community members will help form ideas, prioritize policy changes and review the final recommendations of the action plan. In partnership with Urban Canopy Works, the city's public engagement efforts include:

  • A survey to gauge residents' preferences and priorities for managing the tree canopy. Go to www.publicinput.com/trees to fill out the survey. It will remain open through Monday, Oct. 12.

  • Regular input from a stakeholder group of individuals who have knowledge of and experience working with Charlotte's trees.

  • Additional outreach to the general public, including virtual community and public meetings, social media engagement and more.

Beyond the survey, public engagement efforts are still being finalized as city staff finds creative ways to discuss the Tree Canopy Action Plan with residents while social distancing. Sign up to receive emails about plan updates and future engagement opportunities.

​Currently, 80% of Charlotte's tree canopy is located on private property. Although the tactics will likely be different from how we protect public trees, any tree canopy plan should consider how to grow the canopy on private, residential property. To ensure city staff establish tree canopy priorities and regulations that reflect community desires, it is vital that neighborhood groups and residents provide feedback on the plan. Sign up to receive emails about plan updates and future engagement opportunities.

The city and its consultants in the TCAP effort, Urban Canopy Works and the Center for Watershed Protection, meet every two weeks with a stakeholder group that includes 22 representatives from a variety of disciplines, including development, advocacy groups, neighborhood organizations, landscape architects and homebuilders.

The city has released a survey that gauges public opinion on current tree canopy policies and needs. The survey is available at www.publicinput.com/trees through Monday, Oct. 12. It will inform future recommended policies that will be incorporated in the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which will guide how Charlotte grows for the next 20 years.

A final report with new and updated tree canopy policies will be released in late fall 2020 and included in the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Subsequent to the updated policies in the 2040 Plan, changes in city codes and ordinances will be proposed as part of the city's upcoming Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The UDO is an effort to streamline all city code into one document for easier and better compliance.

  • Sustain Charlotte
  • Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Commission
  • TreesCharlotte
  • Historic Washington Heights neighborhood
  • Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Arboguard
  • Charlotte Arborist Association
  • Clean Air Carolina
  • Catawba Lands Conservancy
  • Bees Trees and All of These
  • NC American Society of Landscape Architects
  • LandDesign
  • Charlotte Apartment Association
  • Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition (REBIC)
  • Center City Partners
  • Banks Engineering
  • University City Partners
  • National Association of Industrial and Office Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAOIP)
  • Urban Land Institute
  • Smith Douglas Homes
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (NC Chapter)

​About 45% of Charlotte is covered by trees. Although this amount of tree canopy coverage is robust, we are seeing decline. In a recent study, the University of Vermont and TreesCharlotte found that Charlotte lost 4% of its tree canopy from 2012 to 2018. You can explore this loss and tree canopy gains in an online map of tree canopy data.  






Get Involved

Public input is a key component of this study and the city’s overall tree canopy efforts. Sign up to receive email updates about the Tree Canopy Action Plan and community meeting details. All are welcome to participate; you do not have to be an expert in trees.