Case Study

Climate Change

San Diego, CA: Increasing Urban Canopy to Adapt to Climate Change


San Diego, a mix of urban and wild, strives to minimize impacts of climate change.

San Diego, California spurs new initiative to increase its urban canopy in order to slow the impact of climate change through carbon sequestration.

San Diego, California

Semi-arid climate with mild, sunny weather year round


White: 43% Hispanic: 31% Asian 16% Black: 6% Two or more races: 3%

Adaptation to climate change is not a reaction, but a calculated series of plans aimed to reduce the drivers of climate change while promoting resiliency. Climate change is predicted to drastically transform how we will live our daily lives, city dwellers are particularly at risk. Cities are known to exacerbate the impact of climate change because their large populations uses massive amounts of resources and continually emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This spells problems for the future of city life if nothing is done. However, most cities are being proactive to the threats climate change and developing adaptation plans. San Diego, CA is one of those cities.

In 2015 the City of San Diego developed a plan to help reduce carbon emissions and better prepare themselves for the negative side effects of climate change. The city realized one of the most cost effective and multi-beneficial ways of doing so was to increase urban canopy coverage, from 13% to 35% by 2035, through the planting of street trees. In 2017 the city began its adaptation initiative by planting street trees in five low-income neighborhoods.

Equipped to Succeed

The adaption to climate change not only is done through tree plantings, but through new expertise. The $750,000 grant from California’s Department of Forestry will help to hire new climate change consultants and foresters whose goals are to create a tree inventory of the current canopy and plan what places throughout the city are at the highest risk of climate change and adapt accordingly. So far, the newly hired foresters have identified the city currently has enough open space along streets to accommodate four times the amount of trees already planted.


$750,000 grant from California Department of Forestry


San Diego’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan: Urban Forestry

  • City of San Diego
  • San Diego Regional Urban Forest Council
  • California Department of Forestry
Lessons Learned
  • Benefits of tree planting for climate change adaptation include:
    • Carbon reduction
    • water security
    • flood reduction
    • heat reduction
Related Resources