ASSESSING URBAN FOREST CANOPY COVER IN GREAT PLAIN CONSERVATION AREA (DÜZCE CITY, TURKEY) BETWEEN 1984 AND 2015
Keywords: Urban forestry, Aerial photography, GIS, Tree canopy cover, Sampling
Abstract. Urban trees and forests are essential components of the urban environment. They can provide numerous ecosystem services and goods, including but not limited to recreational opportunities and aesthetic values, removal of air pollutants, improving air and water quality, providing shade and cooling effect, reducing energy use, and storage of atmospheric CO2. However, urban trees and forests have been in danger of being lost by dense housing resulting from population growth in the cities since the 1950s, leading to increased local temperature, pollution level, and flooding risk. Thus, determining the status of urban trees and forests is necessary for comprehensive understanding and quantifying the ecosystem services and goods. Tree canopy cover is a relatively quick, easy to obtain, and cost-effective urban forestry metric broadly used to estimate ecosystem services and goods of the urban forest. This study aimed to determine urban forest canopy cover areas and monitor the changes between 1984–2015 for the Great Plain Conservation area (GPCA) that has been declared as a conservation Area (GPCA) in 2017, located on the border of Düzce City (Western Black Sea Region of Turkey). Although GPCA is a conservation area for agricultural purposes, it consists of the city center with 250,000 population and most settlement areas. A random point sampling approach, the most common sampling approach, was applied to estimate urban tree canopy cover and their changes over time from historical aerial imageries. Tree canopy cover ranged from 16.0% to 27.4% within the study period. The changes in urban canopy cover between 1984–1999 and 1999–2015 were statistically significant, while there was no statistical difference compared to the changes in tree canopy cover between 1984–2015. The result of the study suggested that an accurate estimate of urban tree canopy cover and monitoring long-term canopy cover changes are essential to determine the current situation and the trends for the future. It will help city planners and policymakers in decision-making processes for the future of urban areas.