CSPAV Associate Director Tony Giarrusso Talks Atlanta Tree Canopy

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Tony Giarrusso, associate director of the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization, has been invited to present the findings from his recently completed second tree canopy assessment for the City of Atlanta at the Georgia Planning Association’s annual conference in September.

The results of the study were highlighted in June 2018 both nationally and locally through news stories published by the Daily Beast and WABE, Georgia public radio

Giarrusso has become known as the local expert on the city’s Tree Canopy for the past 10 years and studied the canopy to help the city understand the importance of having and maintaining the canopy.

Giarrusso, a researcher at the Center in the College of Design at Georgia Tech for 17 years, will be part of a session on Urban Forest Management at 9:00 am on Friday, September 7, at the Georgia Planning Association’s Annual Conference on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Using high-resolution satellite imagery to identify tree canopy, Giarrusso estimated that 47.1% of the city was covered by trees in 2014, a seemingly insignificant change from what he found in the 2008 canopy assessment (47.9%). 

However, after further investigation, he found that while the quantity of tree canopy had not shrunk much between 2008 and 2014, the quality of tree canopy had diminished significantly.

Through a combination of field visits and computer-based review of the satellite imagery,  Giarrusso identified hundreds of acres that had been cleared for development prior to 2008 yet remained undeveloped in 2014 and subsequently showed signs of canopy growth, albeit it low quality, fast-growing pines. Unfortunately, these areas of “false” growth comprised the majority of canopy gain between 2008-2014.

Come to the presentation to learn how the results of this study and those found in the next assessment (2019) are being used by the City of Atlanta to evaluate policy and its effects on the city’s tree canopy.



  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Tony Giarrusso
  • Created: 07/26/2018
  • Modified By: Malrey Head
  • Modified: 08/07/2018


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