San Antonio Goes Greener

Article excerpt

This year the city of San Antonio, Texas is posied to join the ranks of cutting-edge communities that have adopted specific tree canopy goals within their tree ordinances. At last count in 2009, only four U.S. communities had specific goals in place: Roanoke, Virginia: Flower Mound, Texas; Rocklin, California, and the Sacramento Region of California. These four communities exemplify a new, holistic approach to the importance that tree canopy plays in fostering a community-wide healthy ecosystem--including protecting air and water quality.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

These natural resources are especially vital to San Antonio, which relies on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge and Transition Zone (EARZ) as its sole source of drinking water and has seen a lot of development in recent years. With both recognition of the role urban tree canopy brings to environmental quality and a growing concern about the loss of these benefits as the area continues to develop, San Antonio engaged AMERICAN FORESTS to update its previous Urban Ecosystem Analyses (UEA). In the May 2009 update, the region continued to lose tree canopy and gain urban area. Between 2001 and 2006 the city lost 1,800 acres (three percent) of its tree canopy, and 7,600 acres (seven percent) of open space/grasslands, while gaining 7,400 acres (six percent) of additional urban area. Most disturbing was the continued loss of tree canopy in the EARZ--an additional six percent of tree canopy (3,200 acres) and 11 percent (4,400) of open space/grasslands while gaining 20 percent (6,000 acres) of additional urban area in just this five-year period.

To reverse this trend, AMERICAN FORESTS recommended that San Antonio increase its overall tree canopy from its current 38 percent to 40 percent. …