Cincinnati Area GIS (CAGIS) 2020 Urban Tree Canopy Analysis

The Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS) is a consortium of agencies that includes the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD). The CAGIS consortium is managed by the City of Cincinnati who is the contracting authority for this project. CAGIS is a division of the Department Enterprise Technology Solutions (ETS).

The City of Cincinnati and regional stakeholders wanted to complete an updated Urban Tree Canopy Analysis for the City and surrounding Hamilton County, that is essential for a number of City objectives. This required the acquisition of updated Lidar data, and the classification of land cover data including the following 6 classifications: impervious surface, tree canopy, agriculture, bare soil, grass/meadow, and water. The impervious surface classification was of particular interest to the Metropolitan Sewer District.

The project collected Quality Level 1 (QL1) leaf-on LiDAR for the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and also used existing available imagery. The project developed land cover classification data, performed an Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) analysis update, performed a Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 UTC, and developed impervious surface data for parking lots greater than 150 sf.

The project performed Urban Tree Canopy assessment and canopy cover trend analysis. UTC assessment quantifies the percentage of coverage for each geographical unit (municipal neighborhood boundaries or census blocks or tracts), and the change from previous UTC studies in 2010. The UTC analysis quantifies the overall urban canopy ecosystem services (examples: reduction of heat island effect, stormwater runoff, pollution, and atmospheric carbon dioxide) in dollar values per geographical unit.

The project will also develop priority planting plans and a website for review by the stakeholders.

Stakeholders include: Cincinnati Parks, Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), OKI (Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana) Regional Council, Great Parks of Hamilton County, Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Hamilton County Planning, Taking Root, Ohio Department of Natural Resource.

Benefits to the City and other stakeholders include:

  • The development of a valuable Lidar dataset that can be leveraged for a number of future City needs
  • The development of impervious surfaces data will be used by the MSD in the context of stormwater management
  • The tree canopy analysis will help the City track its tree canopy coverage, to quantify gains or losses in the canopy, and to focus on areas of deficiency and tree planting priorities. Urban tree canopy assessment is important in the context of climate change, green infrastructure, and environmental justice, among others
  • Erosion is a particular problem for the City because of its hilly topography, and managing the tree canopy is important for controlling erosion
  • The PM 2.5 analysis involves evaluating the loss and gain of tree model reforestation canopy growth to effectively demonstrate effects on air quality.


QL1 LiDAR data (leaf-on) for the City of Cincinnati