You asked, we answered: 34 things you probably don’t know about Atlanta

How much longer can Atlanta be a City in the Forest?

City skyline of Atlanta with Piedmont Park and the lake in the morning sun
City skyline of Atlanta with Piedmont Park

Photograph by CarlPfranger/Getty

Atlanta is one of the least-dense big cities in the country—just 3,500 people per square mile compared to, say, 28,000 per square mile in New York City. Fewer people means fewer structures, which means more room for trees. With foliage covering almost half of the city’s acreage, we’ve earned the nickname “City in the Forest.”

But all is not necessarily well. The city’s low density means that most of our tree canopy—77 percent, in fact—is on single-family residential land. As intown living becomes more popular (and expensive), compact old bungalows are being torn down to make room for bigger homes, which means more red Xs on trees that encroach on the larger footprint. The city’s tree ordinance makes it too easy for developers to take down trees, and so, for months, city officials have been considering tougher measures. So far, though, no word on what “tougher” will mean.

Meanwhile, Trees Atlanta, a 34-year-old nonprofit, has planted well over 100,000 trees citywide. Perhaps just as important, its Forest Restoration program helps clear urban forests of invasive species such as English ivy and kudzu that strangle our gorgeous native trees.

This article appears in our November 2019 issue.