What did our lost tree canopy change to?

In looking at the detailed land cover data associated with the Tree Canopy studies, we were able to determine how the land cover changed between 2011 and 2017.

Looking specifically at the loss of tree canopy, the chart below indicates how canopy cover changed:

chart of tree canopy lost to other types of land cover
Lost tree canopy by replacement land cover type

While the vast majority of tree canopy was lost to “Grass/Shrub” land cover, all types show a loss of benefits that tree cover provides (stormwater management, reduced energy use, carbon sequestration, etc.). Even grass lawns are known to be detriments to stormwater function, as their soils tend to be highly compacted. In addition, maintenance costs for grass can be higher, including mowing and chemical treatments.

On a more hopeful note, the grass/shrub land cover is also the easiest to convert back to tree canopy over time.