Edgewood Boulevard in Berkley is in one of the areas that has a tree canopy of at least 40%.

Edgewood Boulevard in Berkley is in one of the areas that has a tree canopy of at least 40%.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Berkley looking to improve urban tree canopy

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 19, 2022

Image provided by the city of Berkley


BERKLEY — Berkley’s Tree Board is hoping the city can achieve a tree canopy target of 40% minimum across all its neighborhoods.

At its Dec. 5 meeting, the City Council received a presentation from its Tree Board on an urban tree canopy study conducted by the board.

Tree Board Chairperson Kathleen Karlis stated that an urban tree canopy study assesses how much of a defined geographic area is covered by the tree crowns. She elaborated that the objective of the assessment is to help decision-makers understand their urban forest resources so they can establish goals and strategically focus their efforts and resources for planting trees.

The Tree Board used the city’s census blocks to help define the neighborhoods measured through the study. According to the study’s results, two areas in Berkley, both between Coolidge Highway and Woodward Avenue and just south of 12 Mile Road, had a canopy of around 40%. The majority of the city had between 30% and 38%, though two blocks had 26% and 27%, respectively.

In comparison to other cities using data that the board collected, Karlis said Berkley matched up well with its 33% tree canopy.

“We’ve got a pretty healthy tree canopy in our city compared to some of the other cities,” Karlis said.

The recommendations from the board include that a minimum 40% tree canopy target should be established for Berkley and its neighborhoods and that the study can be used as a guide to focus tree planting efforts and resources.

“That doesn’t mean that we neglect the (neighborhoods) that are already there (at 40%) because, in order to keep them, you know, robust in the future, we have to continue replacing trees and planting trees, but if we have extra trees to plant, we might want to target them for some of those neighborhoods that have less tree coverage,” she said.”

The group also stated efforts should be made to communicate to the community the benefits of trees and achieving a greater urban tree canopy, such as reduced CO2, reduced stormwater runoff, improved air quality, reduced energy costs and improved property values.

On the topic of residents who want to obtain trees for their properties, Karlis said the city wants to look for residents who are interested in having trees in their easements, and that residents should contact the Department of Public Works at (248) 658-3490 to get more information.

Mayor Dan Terbrack said trees are important to Berkley and that the city wants to continue to be a Tree City USA moving forward.

“They’re just part of our identity, and I especially appreciate the recommendations, the 40%, in targeting the areas where we’re lower than that certainly right now,” he said. “There’s the aesthetic piece of (trees) we all enjoy here, but there are other benefits as well, and making sure that our residents understand that, I think, will help continue to drive that number so that we are a minimum 40% across the city in all neighborhoods.”

For more information about the Tree Board, visit www.berkleymich.org/boards_and_commissions/tree.php.