This report was developed by American Forests with a focus on assessing environmental and public health benefits from the urban tree canopy (UTC) in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The primary project goals of this assessment and report were to establish baseline data on the extent and function of the urban forest as it relates to public health and to develop tools and resources for promoting awareness of the benefits of trees. School zones encompassing three Atlanta-area school districts — Atlanta Public Schools, Dekalb County Schools, and City Schools of Decatur — were used as a foundation of this study in order to determine the impact tree canopy has on the broader environment and population from which schools draw their students.

Atlanta, Ga.

Atlanta, Ga. Credit: Carissa Rogers

Key Findings:

  • On average, 47% of the land within all 51 school zones is covered with tree canopy and 25% is covered by impervious surfaces. Most school zones (44 of 51) have more tree canopy cover than impervious surfaces, while zones near Atlanta’s urban core have less tree canopy cover and more impervious surfaces.
  • Canopy cover across the entire city removes an estimated 3.6 million pounds of air pollutants — a benefit valued at $41,877,244. The health benefits related to trees removing air pollutants total approximately $12,597,919.
  • The total average number of respiratory illnesses in the 10 zones with the highest tree canopy cover percentage is 670; while the average number of illness in the zones with the lowest canopy is 746. The latter also report more cases of asthma.
  • The annual monetary benefit of trees on human health in highly-canopied zones ($2,790,016) is double that for low-canopy zones ($1,391,516).

Read the full Assessment Report.

Tree Planting Events:
American Forests and local partners will work the community in Fall 2014 to have coordinated successful restoration plantings. Previous restoration projects occurred in:

Additional resources for Atlanta’s urban forest:
Connect with our local partner or read our case study of Atlanta for more information on the city’s urban forest: