10 Best Cities for Urban Forests: Austin
- Photo Credit: Matthew Rutledge
- A November afternoon in Austin. Credit: Matthew Rutledge
- A view of Austin. Credit: Victor Ovalle/Austin Parks and Recreation
- An Austin park. Credit: Victor Ovalle, Austin Parks and Recreation
- Texas State Capitol, Austin. Credit: Stuart Seeger
With 300 days of sunshine a year, an average temperature of 68 degrees, a 10-mile off-road trail in the heart of the city, a three-acre natural spring-fed swimming hole and live bats that draw tourists by emerging at sundown each day from the Congress Street Bridge, it’s no surprise that Austin also ranks as one of the 10 best urban forests in the country. While it’s aided by its natural environment, Austin’s urban forest success is related to its number of comprehensive plans, strong relationships between nonprofits and government agencies and tree ordinances that cover trees on both public and private land.
About 18 percent of Austin is parkland — a whopping 36 acres of park per 1,000 people — and its tree canopy is a diverse, healthy 30 percent with its street trees comprising nearly 100 different species. In 2012, Austin initiated its first Urban Forest Management Plan and will review it on a five-year cycle in hopes of keeping a strong, healthy and abundant urban forest in the years to come.