Trees

Bellevue is known as a "city in a park." In fact, Bellevue has 2,500 acres of parks and open space, and nearly 8,000 acres of tree canopy. Our trails, open space, parks, recreation centers, ballfields, blueberry farms, community gardens (p-patches) and playgrounds make up 12% of the city's land. Nearly three out of four residents have a park or trail access point within one-third of a mile from their home.

Bellevue's thousands of acres of trees provide health and economic benefits, increase property values and traffic safety, reduce crime, limit stormwater runoff and improve water quality. Trees are also essential to the protection of salmon habitat because they provide shade along streams and preserve water quality by preventing erosion.

2018 marks Bellevue's 27th year of recognition as a "Tree City USA" community by the national Arbor Day Foundation. Bellevue is committed to working with our residents and businesses to help build a healthy community by planting trees.

Benefits of Trees

The City of Bellevue is committed to natural resource stewardship and a healthy and sustainable urban forest. Trees and vegetation provide a multitude of benefits, including clean water, clean air, enhanced quality of life, and improved property values. A 2017 assessment of the benefits of the city’s tree cover found 37 percent tree canopy coverage city-wide.

Bellevue’s urban forest stores 28 thousand tons of carbon, filters 1 million pounds of pollutants from the air, and purifies 315 million gallons of stormwater every year. These ecosystem services total $43 million in savings annually. Urban trees also reduce the risk of flooding and landslides in addition to providing everyday benefits to mental and physical health.

In the updated Comprehensive Plan, the City set a target of 40% tree canopy cover, as recommended by leading national experts American Forests. 

Tree Canopy Assessment

We have been measuring our tree canopy using aerial imaging roughly every ten years since 1986. Up-to-date data on tree canopy cover and impervious surfaces allows the City to make informed decisions about stormwater management, land use, and the benefits that trees provide.

The most recent 2017 Tree Canopy Assessment provides key insights in Bellevue’s forests. While there has been a decline in tree cover since the first assessment in 1986, the decline has leveled off since 2008. Two-thirds of all the park land in Bellevue is forested, but a majority (65%) of the City’s tree canopy area is in suburban residential areas. The Environmental Stewardship Initiative is working to conserve existing trees while finding opportunities to plant more throughout the city. 

For more information, go to Bellevue's 2017 Tree Canopy Assessment Fact Sheet and the 2017 Tree Canopy Assessment Report.

Tree Canopy Management

The City is working to preserve and maintain our tree canopy through the following recent activities and initiatives:

  • Planted over 1,050 trees in city parks and open spaces (2016)
  • Actively maintained 15 acres of natural areas each year
  • Achieved target for maintaining 72 percent of urban forests in a healthy condition (target of 70 person in class 1 or 2 condition)
  • Joined King County's 1 Million Tree Campaign
  • Updated the Clearing and Grading code through the NPDES effort to require a permit for the removal of more than five trees over three years
  • The Tree Pruning Guidelines (flipbook version) explain appropriate tree maintenance practices allowed for various types of trees and in geological hazard critical sites

Contact

Jennifer EwingProgram Manager

Telephone

(425) 452-6129

Email

jewing@bellevuewa.gov
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