What's the future of Charlotte's tree canopy?

Podcast
Thursday, July 15, 2021
McAlpine Creek Greenway in Charlotte NC

Charlotte is known for its tree canopy, and if you've ever flown in here or driven on streets lined with towering oaks, you know why. 

But that canopy is under threat, shrinking by the equivalent of three football fields a day as development spreads and iconic trees planted decades ago age and die. And the trees we do have aren't equitably distributed, with many historically Black and lower-income neighborhoods lacking the tree canopy coverage enjoyed by wealthier, whiter areas. 

In this episode of the Future Charlotte podcast, UNC Charlotte senior researcher Doug Shoemaker talks about what's next for the city's tree canopy, how we can grow more equitably, and why that's especially important in a warming world. 

"Trees are the only way at any scale that's meaningful that humans can offset some of these great global forces that are changing our world," said Shoemaker, Director of Research and Outreach at the Center for Applied Geographic Information Science. 

Shoemaker is currently studying how lower-income neighborhoods can maintain their tree canopies. Tree work is expensive, with bills running into the thousands of dollars when something goes wrong, which can make trees a burden or even a hazard for owners who don't have the means to maintain them. 

"Trees provide these common goods but the costs are borne privately," said Shoemaker.

In addition to Apple Podcasts, the episode is available on Spotify and Google Podcasts

You can also read our report from last year: Charlotte's losing its green canopy, despite efforts to save trees.