Significant Trees Protection

Home > Projects > Tree Protection > Significant Trees

Bellingham Tallest Trees map

WMTP Tree Protection Project

Protection of Large Significant Trees Per Neighborhood

Mapping & Protecting Significant & Heritage Trees per Bellingham Neighborhood

Whatcom Million Trees Project has been meeting with neighborhood associations to encourage their participation in mapping the locations of major trees within each neighborhood. (Want us to present to your N.A.? Please contact us.)
Currently, only Sunnyland and York neighborhoods have developed such tree maps. Our goal is to expand tree mapping to every Bellingham neighborhood!

Mapping By Foot and By Satellite

Mapping volunteers have been walking local streets, Greenways, and parks to identify/locate candidate trees. We also have developed a cool interactive map of the tallest trees per Bellingham neighborhood using lidar satellite data. Tallest trees tend to be the oldest native conifers. Since it’s unrealistic to measure and record every large tree locally for its diameter at breast height (DBH) which is another good indicator of age, our unique map provides a city-wide overview of key trees to pinpoint where enhanced protection should occur.

These Trees Should Be Identified & Protected

Currently, Bellingham’s municipal code (BMC 16.60) defines “significant trees” as 6″ DBH (diameter at breast height) or larger. This definition is used for surveying and development applications. The problem is it’s too broad to identify the largest and/or most important trees to a neighborhood that may be impacted by a proposed development or other action.
Large, mature urban trees are one of our best allies to increase our community’s climate resiliency, health, and well-being — as well as to support biodiversity/habitat. Extraordinary trees also are a key element of a neighborhood’s character.
In short, abundant mature tree canopy is an essential element of our community’s quality of life — especially in our new climate era.
Currently such trees on private parcels and right-of-ways are not protected at all unless they happen to be in a critical/wetlands area, which is unlikely. This is a key reason why there has been an enormous, ongoing loss of large trees within Bellingham over time.
We therefore recommend the adoption of two other tree classifications in Bellingham’s municipal code, as shown in the chart below. We will push for the City’s upcoming Urban Forestry Management Plan to include such definitions.
Significant Trees expanded definitions
By identifying which trees per neighborhood fit these two new categories, improved tree retention ordinances can protect these special trees. That’s our goal.

The Challenge of Caring for Extraordinary Urban Trees

We recognize that some landowners with an extraordinary tree of importance to a neighborhood may not be able to afford the care (prune, monitor, etc.) to keep the tree healthy long-term.
We hope that the City will establish a sliding-scale fund for such landowners to defray the cost of caring for these important shared community assets, in exchange for the trees being retained. WMTP hopes to establish agreements with local arborists who will provide such care at discounted rates. (Are you an interested arborist? Please contact us.)

Volunteer Opportunities

Want to help our tree retention & protection advocacy? Even if you only a have a few hours available per month, please contact us if you have the time and interest!

Related Links/Resources

WMTP Map of Bellingham’s Tallest Trees Per Neighborhood

Home > Projects > Tree Protection > Significant Trees

Whatcom Million Trees Project

Bellingham, WA, USA
(360) 319-1370

Contact Us

Monthly e-Newsletter

Click below to receive our monthly e-newsletter PLUS a FREE bonus!

© 2023 by Whatcom Million Trees Project
All Rights Reserved.