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urban forest, forest management, forest canopy, tree canopy assessment


The City of Bellingham is a community of more than 90,000 residents that stretches over 28 square miles, with an additional 8 square miles of Urban Growth Area (UGA). The City manages an expansive urban forest which includes several thousands of acres of forest and thousands of street trees. Bellingham’s urban forest is a valued asset within the community, as recognized in the City’s Comprehensive Plan vision and its Tree City USA status.

In this context, the City is creating an Urban Forestry Management Plan (UFMP) as a strategic plan to help maintain a healthy and desirable urban forest through well-coordinated, consistent, efficient, and sustainable long-term urban forest management. The UFMP will encompass all trees, in forests and elsewhere, within City limits and the Urban Growth Area (UGA).

The City of Bellingham contracted Diamond Head Consulting (DHC) to assess existing forest conditions as part of Phase 1 (Assessment) of the City’s UFMP. This report describes the methodology and results for:

  • Tree Canopy Assessment: The main outputs of this task were canopy cover maps showing existing canopy coverage, under-forested areas, and noxious weed-threatened forest.
  • Canopy Change Analysis: This task involved comparing canopy cover change over time using imagery from 2006, 2013 and 2018.
  • Forest Structure Analysis: This task involved the stratification of natural forest areas into classes of young to old forest, with attributes for coniferous/deciduous, height class and multi- strata.




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