Urban Forestry

Virginia Beach has been a Tree City USA since 1980 and our official city tree is  live oak.


Virginia Beach’s urban tree canopy (UTC), the layer of leaves, branches and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above, not only provides us with cooling shade. It’s a key component to the city’s stormwater management. The City’s urban forest, the trees where we live, work and play, provides multiple benefits to our residents, and we have a snapshot of our community’s urban forest. 

State of the Urban Forest Report (FY 2015-2016)

Thanks to the efforts of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, Virginia Beach’s urban forest increased to 38 percent by 2012. In 2014, the city adopted a goal of 45 percent urban tree canopy over the next 20 years. In 2015, the City Council provided additional funding to enhance urban forest management in Virginia Beach.​

With approximately 3.2 million trees estimated to exist in Virginia Beach, the urban tree canopy (UTC) contributes to economic savings and environmental benefits for residents. Among the key annual savings and benefits to Virginia Beach citizens, stormwater runoff reduction and property value increases are the most financially significant. Above all, over $263 million in reported annual savings and benefits are attributable to the city’s urban tree canopy at 38%. Download State of the Urban Forest Report

Urban Forest Management Plan (2013)

The purpose of the Urban Forest Management Plan​​ is to guide a broad range of actions that will achieve a sustainable urban forest in Virginia Beach well into the future. A sustainable urban forest includes an abundance of trees with an expansive, integrated and connected tree canopy. 

The development of this plan not only lays the framework for sustainable urban forest management in Virginia Beach, it indicates a high level of commitment to protecting trees and sharing knowledge about the important environmental, economic and social roles trees play in building healthy sustainable communities. The benefits of trees can be maximized when both professional management resources and an educated public coexist.​

State of the Urban Forest Report (FY 2011-2012)

The State of the Urban Forest Fiscal Year 2011-2012​ report examines current quantification processes, improvements in community and interdepartmental communication, as well as recently implemented management practices.

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. 

​State of the Urban Forest Report (FY 2010-2011)

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.