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America's Top 25 leafiest capital cities

May 2023

Nearmap analyzed tree canopy coverage in capital cities across America to reveal which state capital has the nation’s leafiest city.

May 2023

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 702 heat-related deaths occurred in the U.S. annually between 2004-2018. Urban heat islands can also create issues such as higher daytime temperatures, reduced nighttime cooling, poor air and water quality, and increased demand for energy resources that can result in rolling blackouts.
With residents becoming increasingly worried that urban heat islands are raising temperatures nationwide, the need for greener spaces to create more livable communities is increasingly important.
The Nearmap Artificial Intelligence (AI) team recently analyzed tree canopy coverage nationwide to determine America’s Top 25 Leafiest Capital Cities. Compiled through its proprietary aerial imagery technology — and coupled with location data from its Nearmap AI platform — this is the first and only research of its kind in the U.S. using a high-resolution data set to compare total residential tree coverage across capital cities for insurers, commercial construction companies. and governments. How green is your city?

America's leafiest capital cities

Informing the development of America’s Top 25 Leafiest Capital Cities required Nearmap to pull historical and current tree canopy high-resolution aerial imagery on residential areas covering more than 275 million inhabitants. We then harnessed Nearmap AI machine-learning capabilities to identify and analyze residential tree cover density and changes in capital cities throughout the United States.
The report identified the top 25 leafiest capital cities and their percentage of total residential tree coverage, with the top five being:
  1. Charleston, West Virginia (74.7%)
  2. Tallahassee, Florida (56.1%)
  3. Little Rock, Arkansas (54.9%)
  4. Raleigh, North Carolina (54.7%)
  5. Nashville, Tennessee (53.5%)

The complete top 25 leafiest capital cities includes:

Capital City
Percentage of Total Residential Tree Coverage
1. Charleston, West Virginia, 74.7%
2. Tallahassee, Florida, 56.1%
3. Little Rock, Arkansas, 54.9%
4. Raleigh, North Carolina, 54.7%
5. Nashville, Tennesse, 53.5%
6. Atlanta, Georgia, 53.1%
7. Annapolis, Maryland, 51.0%
8. Concord, New Hampshire, 49.2%
9. Jackson, Mississippi, 47.5%
10. Augusta, Maine, 46.3%
11. Jefferson City, Missouri, 43.3%
12. Austin, Texas, 43.2%
13. Olympia, Washington, 42.9%
14. Columbia, South Carolina, 40.1%
15. Richmond, Virginia, 39.9%
16. Albany, New York, 39.1%
17. Montgomery, Alabama, 34.9%
18. Baton Rouge, Lousiana, 34.1%
19. St. Paul, Minnesota, 33.2%
20. Des Moines, Iowa, 31.4%
21. Topeka, Kansas, 30.6%
22. Indianapolis, Indiana, 29.5%
23. Springfield, Illinois, 27.7%
24. Frankfort, Kentucky, 26.3%
25. Columbus, Ohio, 26.1%

"Data of this detail and consistency has never been possible on such a national scale before. Our Nearmap AI platform uses machine learning to turn high-resolution aerial imagery into information and insights, creating a proprietary dataset that our customers use as a source of truth to make our communities more sustainable, resilient, safe and appealing to residents. The fact that it can be used to make comparisons between current and historical captures is critical. It means that we can help not just to map cities, but actively monitor their change, and to help them quantitatively assess the impact of things like a change in policy, a natural disaster or a shifting climate."

Dr. Michael Bewley,Vice President of AI and Computer Vision at Nearmap

Why leafiness matters

A connection to nature in an urban environment is paramount to the physical, mental, and social health of city residents. Studies show that parks and green spaces have positive impacts on anxiety and depression. Further, these areas facilitate communal interaction and promote healthy activities (e.g., cardio and sporting events).
Tony Agresta, Executive Vice President and General Manager of North America at Nearmap, said: “The volume of tree cover can have a significant impact on public health and safety, from preventing overheating, improving environmental health, and mental and physical health benefits. Beyond that, the insights gleaned from this data can be used by insurers, construction companies and local governments to create tangible change in their communities, in addition to tracking progress in the creation of greener cities, reducing natural disaster risk and progressing urban development.”

Nearmap AI coverage

The fifth and latest generation of Nearmap AI is enabled by a deeper learning model trained on a much larger data set. The product has grown to an automated map of 78 layers (up from 49 layers in the previous version), and more than 500 insights per parcel. View the full list of Nearmap AI packs and layers.
Among the new layers are “leaf-off vegetation” (which can identify trees without leaves, even during the Summer season) and “vegetation debris” (which identifies broken and damaged vegetation — like dead wood lying on the floor or trees impacted by wind). Coupled with the near infrared capture capabilities of the new HyperCamera 3 system, Nearmap is continuing to evolve its offering in vegetation management, extending its use cases to vegetation health and wildfire risk management.
Nearmap surveys more than 100 million locations in the United States up to three times per year, making it easy for local governments, insurers, and construction companies to continuously see the AI insights needed to track their performance against goals, identify areas of concern, and measure community impact.
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