Durham Neighborhood CompassDurham Neighborhood Compass

Why This is Important

The presence of trees in neighborhoods is essential for maintaining cooler temperatures (reducing the 'heat-island effect'. The EPA defines heat islands as built-up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas), reducing noise, and beautifying streets and parks. Trees also have profound environmental and health benefits, absorbing and filtering water run-off around paved areas and diluting air-borne pollutants. To learn more about the benefits of neighborhood tree coverage see the EPA fact sheet linked below.

About the Data

This measurement is derived from the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 30-meter national dataset. It represents the percent of total land cover within each block group that is tree canopy, whether in forests, along streets, or individual trees.

NOTE: Prior to June 2020, the Compass relied on National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) data sourced from the EPA EnviroAtlas. This information reported only on the urbanized area of Durham County, and gave metric estimates which differed significantly from the current compass values (ranging from 5.8% lower to 33.4% larger on the blockgroup level compared with current compass values) . We moved to NLCD data in order to both extend the time series reported here - showing information for both earlier and more recent years - and to extend the area of coverage to the entire county. Comparisons to all areas of the contiguous US are also made possible by using NLCD data for these summaries.

Source: National Land Cover Database (NLCD), accessed via the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium.

Additional Resources

ResourceLearn More and Take Action
Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC)The MRLC is a long-standing consortium of federal agencies which provides geospatial data describing land cover characteristics across the United States.
EnviroAtlas GlossaryTerms and definitions used throughout the EnviroAtlas website, fact sheets, and other resources.
Benefits of Neighborhood Tree CoverageA factsheet from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Census TractsCensus Blockgroups

Select a base geography (depending on the dataset, different geographies may be available).

Or, select a, or

Data Distribution, 2016

Tree Coverage

Share feedback or questions