These Maps of Street Trees Are Making Cities More Livable

Treepedia encourages residents to make the urban landscape greener


An aerial view of Central Park in New York City, New York

(TierneyMJ /

World Cities Day, celebrated around the world on October 31, is a great chance to honor the often overlooked stars of our urban landscape - trees. Not only do trees mitigate air pollution caused by everyday urban activities, increasing a city’s tree canopy can contribute to lowering urban temperatures and their absorptive root systems also help avoid floods.

Recognizing that an increasing number of cities around the world are seeking to take advantage of the awesomeness of trees, researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab developed a metric—the Green View Index—by which to evaluate and compare canopy cover. Treepedia measures the urban ‘Green Canopy’, or the aboveground portion of trees and vegetation in over 20 urban centers around the world, allowing residents and researchers to compare the distribution of their city’s greenery to tree coverage.

Treepedia is all about raising a proactive awareness of urban vegetation improvement with a focus on street trees and therefore doesn’t map parks. The idea is to assess the sustainability of streets and neighborhoods where people actually live and work in order to encourage residents to take action.

For map lovers, Treepedia is a dream. By using Google Street View data rather than satellite imagery, the handy index offers a human perception of the environment from the street level. Rather than count the individual number of trees, researchers developed a scalable and universally applicable method by analyzing the amount of green perceived while walking down the street. Using a scale of 0-100, the interactive images of each city show a percentage of canopy coverage of a particular location and allow for some great map exploration for those who are that way inclined!

Treepedia is still in its early stages and as more data is recorded, more cities around the world will be added to the index. The roots have already been planted so make sure to watch this space as Treepedia grows and flourishes.

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