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New report shows Vienna is losing its trees

Vienna is slowly losing its tree covering, according to a new report (staff photo by Vernon Miles).

Over the last ten years, Vienna has been steadily losing its tree canopy.

In an assessment report submitted to the Vienna Town Council earlier this month, staff found that the city’s tree canopy cover has been reduced by approximately 163 acres — or 13% — since 2011.

The decline in the town’s tree canopy is in contrast with earlier increases in prior decades.

Vienna currently has around 38.7% canopy coverage, which is lower than Fairfax County as a whole (51.2%) and nearby Falls Church (46%), but slightly ahead of some nearby areas like Arlington (38%) and Alexandria (32.5%).

The highest losses were concentrated around the center of town, near the now-ironically named Maple Avenue.

The report also includes suggestions on how Vienna can reverse the decline, including using more of the town’s right of way to plant trees along roads.

“Although overall canopy percentages of Vienna have decreased in the past 10 years, there exists many opportunities to plant, preserve, and maintain the trees within the town,” the report said. “The next steps will determine the course for The Town of Vienna’s tree management program.”

The report includes several considerations for boosting the town’s tree canopy:

  • Establishing a percentage for the Town’s tree canopy goal.
  • Providing support for tree planting and preservation programs and activities.
  • Engaging and educating the residents and stakeholders in Vienna to support and participate in tree-related
    activities.
  • Developing a program to encourage planting of trees on private property.
  • Writing an Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP) for Vienna.
  • Conducting an inventory of the Town’s public trees (street ROW, parks, and other public property).
  • Continuing to compile and maintain data on the annual expenditures on tree planting and number of trees planted to maintain Vienna’s “Tree City USA” status.

Town Council member Nisha Patel said she hopes the report will be a wakeup call for the town.

“The message has been loud and clear for all of us: that we need to plant more trees,” Patel said. “Thank you for giving us the hard evidence of that.”

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