April 30, 2018 /
Jona Elwell

The Grades are In: The 2017 Tree Report Card

Each year on Arbor Day, Casey Trees releases our Tree Report Card where we analyze the state of D.C.’s urban forest and grade its progress towards our 40 percent tree canopy goal. At its heart, the Tree Report Card is a benchmark to measure the previous year’s efforts and see what areas we and others working to re-tree D.C. can improve on.

The only independent assessment of D.C.’s trees on both public and private lands, the Tree Report Card was released on Arbor Day and gave the nation’s capital an A for 2017!

This is the highest grade D.C.has ever received. The overall grade given is combination of four metrics:

Tree Coverage (A)
Tree Health (B-)
Tree Planting (A+)
Tree Protection (A)

Our Executive Director, Mark Buscaino, is thrilled by the progress, but cautious about the future. “Ten years ago we launched our Tree Report Card to provide basic information on the state of D.C.’s tree canopy to the public, elected officials and the Administration each year. We hoped to spark action to improve it and the Tree Report Card has largely succeeded as envisioned. But while progress has been impressive, a dark cloud lies ahead. The city’s development boom is slowly eliminating the one thing trees cannot live without – soil. A total of 42% of the city’s land is covered by impervious surfaces such as asphalt and rooftops – greater than the tree canopy goal itself. ”

Ultimately this Tree Report Card is a celebration of how far we’ve come. From surpassing yearly planting targets to significant progress made in safeguarding large, heritage trees and discouraging removing trees, 2017 was a terrific year for our city’s canopy. Of course, it takes a village. We are eternally thankful for the hard work of all our partners making trees a priority in the city by planting, caring and protecting trees in the District.

The full Tree Report Card can be found on our website. Help us combat the growing threat of impervious surfaces – plant a canopy tree to help absorb stormwater runoff. We have many residential planting options for little or no cost to you.