December 20, 2022 - Council Receives Report on State of the Urban Forest

Trees are a defining characteristic of Lake Oswego. Together, the trees that line streets, neighborhoods, parks, and natural areas, and shade streams comprise an urban forest that contributes to the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of Lake Oswego. The City recognizes the urban forest as a critical asset that must be managed to realize its benefits.

On December 20, the City Council received a presentation from staff and project consultant Parametrix, Inc., on the State of the Urban Forest. The report will help the City manage the urban forest, and provide data to help inform updates to the City’s Urban and Community Forestry Plan consistent with the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Key findings include:

  • Citywide tree canopy increased from 48.6 percent to 53.4 percent from 2014-2019. (The City also lost canopy in the 2021 ice storm, though this has not been quantified.)
  • Lake Oswego has the highest tree canopy cover in the Portland region among cities of comparable size.
  • Canopy cover is well distributed with all neighborhoods achieving over 40 percent canopy and all having increased canopy during the study period.
  • The ecosystem services of Lake Oswego’s urban forest are immense, including nearly 270 thousand pounds of air pollutants removed annually, 155 million gallons of avoided annual stormwater runoff, and storage of 201,732 megagrams of carbon.
  • The urban tree canopy is a valuable community resource. Threats include climate change, extreme weather, wildfire, insects and disease, urban development, and invasive species.
  • Lake Oswego has a diverse mix of trees of varying sizes with an abundant stock of smaller trees, only some of which will eventually replace larger trees.
  • Planting large stature tree species, where appropriate, will help replace larger trees as they decline or are otherwise removed. The loss of larger trees negatively impacts carbon storage as well as other important community benefits.
  • Urban forestry policies and practices will need to be balanced with other community goals including housing, energy conservation, and renewal energy.

It is anticipated the State of the Urban Forest Report will be updated on a 5-year cycle to coincide with regional plans to fly high-resolution aerial imagery and Lidar, which are tools that form the basis for the urban tree canopy (UTC) assessment. Any updates to the Urban and Community Forestry Plan would include public and stakeholder engagement.

The City of Lake Oswego State of the Urban Forest Report (December 2022) is available in the Public Records folder:

An interactive Story Map is available using this link: