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Tree Canopy Cover

Variable Definitions:
Existing Tree Canopy Cover: The percentage of land area where the ground is covered from above by the leaves, branches, and stems of trees 

Possible Tree Canopy Cover: The percentage of land area available for the establishment of tree canopy. This includes both existing tree canopy and area where improvements could be made to accommodate additional trees

Los Angeles County Tree Canopy Map Viewer by Tree People and the Center of Urban Resilience (CURes) at Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

Years Available:

Other Data Notes:

Possible Tree Canopy includes areas that are theoretically available for the establishment of tree canopy. This category includes both pervious and impervious areas (asphalt or concrete surfaces, excluding roads and buildings) where improvements could ostensibly be made to accommodate additional trees.

Learn more about this data from the original source:

The Journey to the Los Angeles County Tree Canopy Map Viewer

Why are these variables important to measure?

Tree Canopy Cover

California’s long history of racial segregation and its unprecedented housing crisis has forced urban low-income communities and communities of color to live in segregated urban neighborhoods where housing is generally more affordable (Shonkoff et al., 2011). However, living in dense urban areas places low-income communities and communities of color in close proximity to industrial facilities, oil wells, transit centers, and highways, which increases their exposure to polluted air and elevates their risk of developing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 2018). Urban areas are also more likely to experience frequent heat waves and higher temperatures, yet they often lack enough natural greenery to offset the environmental imbalance caused by industrial activities (Shonkoff et al., 2011). Insufficient access to natural land cover and the unaffordability of air cooling systems places low-income urban residents at high risk for heat-related morbidity and mortality (Shonkoff et al., 2011). Urban low-income communities of color thus have to bear the brunt of industrial pollution and climate change.
Moreover, studies have suggested a relationship between more tree cover in neighborhoods and better physical and psychological health, better social cohesion, and lower rates of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma (Ulmer et al., 2016). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Trees and vegetation lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and through evapotranspiration” (2021). Surfaces shaded by tree coverage can be up to 20–45°F (11–25°C) cooler than unshaded surfaces, and “evapotranspiration, alone or in combination with shading, can help reduce peak summer temperatures by 2–9°F (1–5°C)” (Environmental Protection Agency, 2021). Urban tree canopies also improve air quality by removing pollutants from urban atmospheres at a faster rate (Loughner, et al.) The multiple benefits associated with urban tree canopies go to show that they play an integral role in improving the wellbeing of urban residents.


Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Using trees and vegetation to reduce heat islands. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Link
Loughner, C. P., et al. Roles of urban tree canopy and buildings in urban heat island effects: parameterization and preliminary results. (2012). Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 51(10), 1775–1793. Link
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. (2018). City and Community Health Profiles: Compton. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Link
Shonkoff, S., et al. (2011). The climate gap: environmental health and equity implications of climate change and mitigation policies in California—a review of the literature. Climatic Change, 109 (S1), S485–S503Link
Ulmer, J., et al. (2016). Multiple health benefits of urban tree canopy: The mounting evidence for a green prescription. Health & Place, 42, 54-62. Link

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