Developing a Spatial Form Model to Assess Canopy Cover and Other Urban Forestry Metrics for Guelph, Ontario
The majority of mid- to large-sized municipalities recognize the importance of planning for the future of their urban forest. Urban forest management plans (UFMPs) are the defining documents behind urban forest management; they provide strategic direction and operational guidance for municipalities to manage their urban forest. They also outline future urban canopy goals for municipalities. Canopy cover is used as one of many indicators of urban forest management success. This study developed a spatial form model to determine whether the City of Guelph's UFMP (2012) canopy cover target of 40% is achievable given various planning considerations. The model used a geographic information system (ArcGIS 10.2) and leaf-on SPOT 6 satellite imagery to determine existing land covers, and it applied a variety of spatial analysis tools to land cover data and existing infrastructure to determine the spatial extent and/or quantity of a variety of urban forest metrics. Results found that a 40% canopy cover is achievable in Guelph if 52% of the available plantable space becomes canopy cover. Industrial and employment, institutional, low-density residential, commercial, and park land should be targeted for future planting efforts due to their large plantable space areas and/or low relative canopy cover. This study can now be used as a spatial guide to show where plantable spaces exist and what areas should be targeted for future planting. It also shows where the City's existing canopy cover, and other land covers, exist.