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How to protect Austin’s urban forest of 33 million trees

It may be Earth Day, but we’re offering tips and tools for supporting Austin’s thriving urban forest 365 days a year.

The Austin skyline, as seen from between trees on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

There are several ways to help take care of Austin’s urban forest.

Photo by ATXtoday

It’s Earth Day, Austin — take a look at the trees.

Austin’s urban forest of 33+ million trees covers ~30% of the city, cleaning the air, reducing flooding, providing shade, and increasing property values.

In total, Austin’s trees are valued at $12.3 billion and provide an estimated $38 million in benefits each year, in part through:

  • Reducing energy costs
  • Sequestering ~1.2 million tons of carbon per year
  • Alleviating pollution

However, like several across the country, Austin’s urban forest is under threat of extreme weather, land development, invasive plants, and disease.

To protect Austin’s trees, about 10 years ago the city established an Urban Forest Plan outlining aims for bolstering the urban forest by 2034. The plan outlines a range of goals for the caretaking of trees on public land and right-of-ways, including:

  • Identifying, suppressing, and managing invasive species
  • Maximizing the use of stormwater and reclaimed water for irrigation
  • Designing future street, sidewalk, and utility design with vegetation in mind
  • Encouraging planting in high-priority areas, which includes much of east Austin
A map of the City of Austin shows red and green sections based on an area's concentration of trees. Much of the center of the city is red, with the western edges of the map dark green.

This map from My City’s Trees — a platform using data from Texas A&M Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service — shows highly vegetated areas in dark green.

Screenshot of My City’s Trees interactive map

How to take care of trees in your neighborhood

First thing’s first: get to know the trees in your neighborhood with My City’s Trees’ interactive map.

Once you and your local urban forest are acquainted, dig into some of the opportunities for protecting the forest in your area: