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47.9%

Atlanta has the highest percentage of overall urban tree canopy in the United States.
Providing the city the moniker of the “City in the Forest.”

What is special about Atlanta? And how do we protect and expand that to make sure that as how we grow, we become more of who we are, not something else we don’t recognize or like anymore
— Ryan Gravel

Lot Canopy Visualization
The greener the lot corresponds to a higher percentage of tree canopy coverage

This graphic plots the city lots above and groups them by percentage of tree canopy coverage 

Process

Trees have their own network, and how they thrive isn’t dependent on commercial versus residential, or mixed use versus single family. But the data we have composed by satellites and permits, divides it by lots. Narrowing down and sifting through the data was formed by our qualitative interviews. Some of what we presumed to be the case, was changed by asking experts and people who interacted with the tree ordinance.

Design

After ideation, we divided the canopy data by it’s lots and looked at density of the canopy versus type of lot and lot size. We also added in qualitative interviews from citizen, conservationist, and government perspectives. 

The project included interviews from city planners, conservationist, utilities, developers, and homeowners to gather perspectives. Through interviews we discovered how and why trees are taken down and the different processes for tree care from an individual or utility.

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Data Discovery

Single-family homes contribute enormously to Atlanta’s tree canopy. Townhomes, condos, and other multi-family dwellings often have little to no tree coverage.

Densely developed areas, such as downtown, surrounding neighborhoods, and former Atlanta Housing Authority developments have less than 5% tree cover.

In the datasets, we see few permits for removal from utility companies.

Interviews

Julia, Atlanta Home Owner Talks about Her Tree Removal Experience

Ryan Gravel, Founder at Sixpitch. Urban planner, designer, author, and visionary of the Atlanta Beltline.

Matt Davis, Urban Forestry Specialist at Trees Atlanta

References

City of Atlanta: Parcels, 2012, City Parks, 2015
Trees Atlanta: Planted Trees, 1994-2014
Georgia Tech: Urban Tree Canopy, 2008, Watershed, 2008, Thermal heat map, 2011

Further research included news articles, studies, and other data visualizations.

Team Members

Biqing Li, Becky Scheel, Benjamin Sugar, John Thompson

My responsibilities included research, interviews, and design. 

Further Work

We would have liked to focus on the anomalies and lack of data. For instance, taking a look as to what the utilities decided to report on in their acts of “good faith” as it pertains to removal. 

Special Thanks

Ryan Gravel at Sixpitch, Matt Davis and Tabitha Schwartz at Trees Atlanta, Julia Liu, Kathy Evans at City of Atlanta, Matt Chambers at Georgia Power, Jon Love at Google Fiber, and Caroline Foster.