Urban Forest Losses Mount

Wake County has lost over 11,000 acres of trees in the past decade, part of a problematic global trend.

Global deforestation is an enormous and growing threat to our climate, health, and biodiversity. Research now tracks the problem at every level.

The United States is part of the problem, with a 17% decrease in tree cover from 2001 through 2022 alone. For most people, however, the severity of a threat is seen more sharply when the measurement and examples are even closer to home.

In that regard, an analysis commissioned by Wake County and recently released may help make the point—and inspire other counties in North Carolina to examine their own situations. Over the past decade, the Wake study shows, that county lost 11,120 acres of trees. To help illustrate that impact in easy-to-visualize terms, environmental reporter Lisa Sorg in NC Newsline compares it to the land cleared and covered with impervious structure, concrete, and asphalt by 2,700 new Walmart stores. 

Wake County is one of the fastest growing in North Carolina in population and development, so its raw numbers will be especially dramatic. However, the same trends can be seen in growing urban areas across the state. Further, these trends are likely to be exacerbated by anti-environmental legislation already adopted by the state legislature this year. Action on the local level is becoming more urgent than ever.

To see the Wake report in illustrated detail, review the “Wake County Tree Canopy Assessment.”

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