Trees and green spaces improve our daily quality of life. They provide environmental, social and economic benefits, also known as ecosystem services.

Trees can have a significant impact on human health and well-being, especially in urban areas. A healthy and robust tree canopy is crucial to the sustainability and livability of our urban areas.

Tree canopy is defined as the layer of tree leaves, branches and stems that cover the ground when viewed from above.

A 2019 study mapped and measured the size of the extensive tree canopy in Canada’s Capital Region.

About the study

The Tree Canopy Assessment: Canada’s Capital Region is the very first region-wide mapping analysis of the tree canopy. It assessed the percentage of land covered by trees over 2 m high in the City of Ottawa and Ville de Gatineau, and on NCC-managed lands.

Tree canopy maps provide vital information to decision makers. When integrated with other data, they can help governments and their citizens grow the canopy and increase the benefits provided by trees.

Use our interactive map to navigate the data. It provides a large database for future research and analysis.

Key findings

  • Overall, the region has a robust tree canopy, covering
    • 46% of all lands mapped in this study
    • 74% of NCC-managed lands
    • 45% of Gatineau’s urban area
    • 31% of Ottawa’s urban area
  • The tree canopy is not evenly distributed, with many areas having far less than the regional average. Accordingly, people living in these areas don’t benefit as much from the ecosystem services that trees provide.
  • Environmental justice issues are cause for concern.
    • Wealth may provide greater access to tree canopy.
    • Highly populated areas may have lower access to tree canopy.
  • Urban density, the number of parks, tree and park management practices, and land use history all contribute to the tree canopy cover.

A collaborative effort

This assessment was completed by the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory. The project was made possible through a collaborative partnership between the NCC, City of Ottawa and Ville de Gatineau.

The data from this study will inform the NCC Forest Strategy. For more information about how this assessment and data will be used:

Cookie Notice: Our website uses tracking technologies (cookies) to learn how our visitors interact with our site. This helps us to improve our services, and provide you with valuable content. Read our privacy policy.