Urban Forest Management Plan

Tree Row Tampa Florida
Urban Forest Resource Management Plan

The City of Tampa’s Urban Forest Management Plan identifies a series of quantifiable steps that guides activities and resources to accomplish predetermined outcomes, the time frame for implementation and the responsible agency or partnership. The plan is best seen as a part of a long-term process, a living and adaptable plan of action, and not a static product.

In 2006, Tampa had an estimated 7.8 million trees with a replacement value of $1.4 billion.  In 2016 Tampa had an estimated 9.3 million trees with a replacement value of $2.01 billion

Tree Canopy Studies

A tree canopy analysis is a study of where trees are located within an area and how much area the tree canopy covers. The tree canopy analysis identifies the extent of the existing tree canopy, the potential for new tree plantings, and provides a way to measure tree canopy coverage over time.  Using satellite imagery, researchers measure  and assess the condition of the city's urban forest, as well as the social and economic benefits provided by trees. Survey crews also collect field data from sample sites to verify the satellite imagery. This information will help strategically plan and target resources for the greatest return on investment in our tree canopy, including reduced stormwater runoff and reduced energy consumption.

The City of Tampa has completed two Tree Canopy Studies and is in the process of completing its third.  The City Planning Department is partnering with the University of South Florida to complete the 2021 Urban Ecological Analysis.

TRZ Report

Chapter 27-284 requires the Natural Resources Coordinator to prepare a report to City Council on the impact of the Tree Removal Zone (TRZ) on Tampa’s grand trees. According to Section 27-284.2.5(h), the Report shall include: The number of applications acted upon by the Variance Review Board (VRB) and Natural Resources Coordinator to remove grand trees by month, including the number of grand trees granted and denied a permit to be removed and the number of grand trees removed by, size, species and location of each tree.

2016 COT Tree Canopy and Urban Forest Analysis

Key Findings - Urban Forest Composition

  • Tampa’s municipal forest consists of 9.3 million trees and contains 112 tree species and 145 shrub species.
  • Of the 112 tree species identified, 51 (46%) are listed in the Urban Forest Management Plan’s Tree Matrix as desirable species suitable for planting.
  • 55% of the tree species are rated as having a high to medium-high wind resistance; and 36% having a medium-low to low wind resistance. There is no reliable wind resistance information on the remaining 9%.
  • Native species account for 70% of the trees found in Tampa. Brazilian pepper now represents 8% of the total population (11% if mangroves are excluded).
  • Eight species of trees and palms account for 62% of the City’s trees.
  • One out of every four trees in Tampa is a mangrove species. However, mangrove ecosystems account for only 1.6% of Tampa’s land area and 2.5% of the leaf area.
  • The high density of these mangrove ecosystems partially explains why tree size is skewed to smaller diameter trees — with 70% between 1" and 6" in diameter.
  • While some areas of the City are densely forested, Tampa has an average of 125 trees per acre — a third of what is typical of native forests.
  • With regard to forest health, 55% of trees are rated as being in excellent condition; 28% are in good condition, 6% are in fair condition, and 11% are in poor condition or dead.

Key Findings – Urban Forest Canopy Cover

  • Tampa has 27,641 acres of tree canopy, 20,839 acres of grass/shrub land cover, and about 23,926 acres of impervious surfaces (e.g., buildings, roads, and other paved surfaces).
  • Estimated citywide canopy coverage increased from 31.7% in 2006 to 34.4% in 2011, but then decreased to 32.3% in 2016. These differences were not statistically significant.
  • From 2006 to 2011, there was a slight increase in tree canopy in all Planning Districts, and a significant increase in South Tampa. Between 2011 and 2016 there was essentially no change within most Districts, except a slight increase in Central Tampa.
  • With regard to the Neighborhood Associations, tree canopy ranged from a low of 4% in the Channel District to a high of 73% in Tampa Palms.
  • Most of the City’s tree canopy (13,956 acres or 50%) is located on residential properties.
  • Nearly 25% of all tree canopy (6,522 acres) is located on properties designated as Major Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the Land Use Element of the Tampa Comprehensive Plan.
  • Compared to other Future Land Use categories, the public Right-of-Way has the third largest acreage of tree canopy (2,797 acres) and an even larger area of grass/shrub (3,316 acres) where some additional tree planting could conceivably be done.

Key Findings – Urban Forest Economic Benefits and Ecosystem Services

  • Each year, Tampa’s urban forest:
  • Reduces 808 tons of air pollutants that cause respiratory problems — eliminating an estimated $4.5 million in health care costs
  • Reduces residential building air conditioning (shading) and heating (wind break) costs by $7 million
  • Reduces 50 million cubic feet of stormwater runoff (valued at $3.4 million)
  • Stores 865 million tons of carbon in trees and woody shrubs (valued at $112 million)
  • Sequesters 62,000 tons/year of atmospheric carbon by trees and shrubs (valued at $8 million)
  • In addition to the $134.9 million dollars in ecosystem services listed above, an investigation into home prices and tree cover conducted as part of this assessment found:
    • The sale price of single-family homes increased between $155 to $164 for every 1% increase in tree canopy within the 500-foot neighborhood surrounding the house lot.
    • With 32% canopy coverage citywide, Tampa’s urban forest increases home values by $5,248 on average.

For more information, contact the City Planning Department at TampaPlanning@tampagov.net