Hyattsville lost 30% of its tree canopy, about 236 acres’ worth, between 2009 and 2018, according to an Oct. 19 presentation to the city council by Joe Joyner of the Davey Resource Group.  

The city awarded the forestry consultants a $30,000 contract in 2020 to study the city’s canopy.

According to aerial imagery, the tree canopy covered 45% of the city in 2009, but was reduced to 31% by 2018. Land development, damage from an insect called the emerald ash borer, and the natural death of old trees are likely to be the main causes of this loss.

Hyattsville’s maximum potential tree canopy coverage is 940 acres, or about 54% of land cover.

In an email, resident, Dr. Theresa Goedeke, an environmental sociologist active in the community on sustainability issues, offered praise for the Hyattsville’s Shade Tree Board, city arborist and public works department. 

She wrote, “we have some amazing old trees here, but some of them are failing and there are few young trees to replace their canopy. Added to that is what seems like a rush to develop in every green space left in the region, including our city parks,” she said. “In five years, this city will be transformed, and much less green and sustainable, I’m afraid, if we do not change our approach, collectively.”

One bright spot on Hyattsville’s map is Northwestern High School’s campus, the largest area that has seen an increase in tree canopy since 2019.