Considering Climate for a Healthy Urban Tree Canopy — The Nature Conservancy in Washington



By: Kate Sievers, Project Manager, Nature Based Solutions

Urban trees offer great promise to improve residents’ daily lives and make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Benefits to residents include cleaning the air, improving mental and physical health, and mitigating the urban heat island impact during increasing summer temperatures. Choosing the right tree species can help ensure these benefits grow with us as our climate changes.

Selecting the right tree from the many available species may feel like an overwhelming decision. The Climate Tree Species Guide provides a quick three-page suitability reference for over 180 tree species and each tree suitability for the changing climate of the Puget Sound region. A more detailed assessment of species can be found here.

A tree planted today will see decades of growth as we experience the impact of climate change. In the Puget Sound region warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns are projected to increase. Historically the region has experienced an annual average of 1-7 days above 86F, but by 2070 this is expected to increase to 45-60 days. Summers and winters are expected to be drier, while spring and fall are expected to be wetter. This changing climate leaves our ecosystem vulnerable. So, what does this mean for our current trees and how do we make the best planting decisions today for a resilient tomorrow?


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