Explore Austin’s Community Tree Priority Map

Dec 18, 2020 - 3:05 pm


In 2020, the City of Austin's Community Tree Preservation Division released the Community Tree Priority Map. This resource prioritization tool is for everyone to use including city programs, partners, policy makers, Urban Forest Grant applicants, arborists and more. It provides access to relevant data comparable across Austin’s neighborhoods. For example, tree canopy data helps uncover disparities in historically under-canopied areas. This enables people to decide where activities like planting, tree care, and community outreach could occur around Austin. 

Developing the tool entailed consulting with many people, including arborists, planners, tree planters, students, and others. Youth engagement proved instrumental in establishing the relative weight of the priorities.    

Additionally, the City's Youth Forest Council and Park Ranger Cadets expressed their admiration through words of gratitude and letters to trees. One participant wrote,  

“I am thankful for the shade trees bring on hot summer days. I am thankful for the way they calm me down so I am able to listen to nature and feel at ease. I am thankful for the clean air they give me so I am able to breathe.”  

The map matches survey priorities with data points including tree canopy, temperature, mental health, and air pollution. It then bakes this info into a simple score. In the map, red equals higher scores. Higher scores mean higher priority. This is where we’d like to invest more planting and stewardship activities.

In the end, priority areas help us gauge success. For instance, are activities like tree planting occurring in higher priority areas? So far the data tell us, 60% of tree planting occurred in the moderate to highest need areas over the last five years. Moving forward, we will encourage future projects in priority areas. 


Austin’s Community Tree Priority Map 

Interested in learning more? View the interactive map here!


About the Map

The Community Tree Priority Map is organized into 5 categories: lowest, low, moderate, high, and highest priority. Categories are equally divided into Austin’s census tracks. The top three highest priority areas (moderate, high, highest) represent 60% of Austin's highest scoring census tracks. Higher scores mean higher need and higher priority for trees and urban forest stewardship investment.

Calculating Priority Scores

Nine data inputs are standardized and summed across Environment, Social Vulnerability, Community Investment, and Health & Well-Being categories. Each category was normalized to minimize its impact on the priority score.   


Article contributed by Alan Halter, GIS Analyst Senior with the Community Tree Preservation Division. Email your questions to Alan by clicking here.  


Additional Information  

Stewardship Investment: The Community Tree Report seeks to share how the City invests in the activities that support Austin’s urban forest and community of stewards. The Report features investment visualizations, an interactive map of projects, and the raw data for your own analysis project.  

Urban Forest Benefits: Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (UFIA) completed an assessment in Austin in 2016. Austin’s urban forest monitoring program and produces estimates of the quantity, health, composition, and benefits of urban trees and forests. 

City of Austin Strategic Direction 2023 (SD23) Alignment: Tree Planting Prioritization Map supports the SD23 Government that works for all (GTW.10).  

Do you have an idea to benefit Austin's urban forest in high priority areas? We encourage you to explore and apply for the Urban Forest Grant, which can help fund your tree-related ideas.