Virginia Beach has been a Tree City USA since 1980 and our official city tree is live oak.
The City of Virginia Beach’s urban forest, the trees where we live, work and play, provides multiple benefits to our residents, and for the first time, we have a snapshot of our community’s urban forest.
In Fiscal Year 2010-2011, the first City of Virginia Beach State of the Urban Forest report was released. Showcasing quantifiable Urban Tree Canopy (UTC), tree related community and interdepartmental city communications, and sustainable management practices, the report provided a strategic framework for the future.
Technology continues to enable us to efficiently quantify as well as monitor our ever-changing urban forest and is a valuable and necessary tool in establishing citywide tree- management parameters. Though our watersheds possess similar characteristics, data from our UTC study has enabled us to evaluate the city as a whole and make comparisons between many different geographic areas. The recommended UTC for cities in the Mid-Atlantic region is 40 percent, the UTC in Virginia Beach is 36 percent. Strategies will need to be defined to minimize decline in our current canopy to ensure that it continues to develop into a healthy and viable resource for the future.
The urban forest is an indicator for environmental health, economic prosperity, and community cohesion. A sustainable Urban Forest Management Plan is crucial in order for the city to move forward proactively in enhancing the existing urban forest, and to meet the needs of an expanding population. Developing that plan will not only benefit the forest, but also improve the quality of life for generations to come.