Washington-Area Regional Leaders Adopt New Tree Canopy Goal

Tree Canopy Expansion Cited as Critical to Meeting Climate Change Targets

An association representing hundreds of Washington, D.C.-area local and state leaders adopted a new regional tree canopy goal April 11, signaling tree cover as a natural asset to achieve sustainable, equitable, and healthier communities.  

Officials with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) set a minimum target of maintaining 50 percent tree canopy coverage across the metropolitan Washington region. The COG is comprised of 300 elected officials from 24 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures, and U.S. Congress. 

COG cited the objective as critical to their work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. While many localities have established tree canopy targets, this goal, COG officials said, can support progress toward regional targets. 

According to COG, in 2023, Chesapeake Bay Program data indicated that an estimated 49.6 percent of the region’s 2.2 million acres of land was covered by tree canopy, down from 51.3 percent coverage in 2014. COG experts noted that an average of 4,383 acres of tree canopy are lost each year in the region due to development and other factors. If this trend continues through 2050, COG noted that the region’s tree canopy coverage would drop to 44.4 percent. 

In Virginia alone, development, hotter wildfires, road widenings, invasive species, and increased energy infrastructure have all contributed to a net loss of 9,548 acres of urban and forest canopy between 2014 and 2018. 

Ann Jurczyk, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Virginia Manager for Urban Restoration, issued the following statement:

“Trees are indispensable, free, natural infrastructure. We applaud this much needed aspirational goal to not only reduce pollution and protect communities against climate change threats, but also support healthier neighborhoods, property values, and equity goals.” 

Julieta Rodrigo, CBF’s Urban & Community Resilience Manager in Maryland, issued the following statement: 

“Tree canopies are particularly important in urban landscapes like the DC area that have more impervious surface—keeping streets cooler and communities more resilient against the effects of climate change.” 


Vanessa Remmers

Virginia Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

Save the Bay
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close