Recently released satellite images show the landscape of Montgomery, Elmore and Autauga counties in Alabama have drastically changed during a 16-year period. The images demonstrate the loss of trees has a definite environmental impact. The images support the belief that tree cover in the tri-county area has declined since 1986 as the population continues to climb. The results show a 7 percent loss of tree cover in the tri-county area between 1986 and 2002, as the coverage of asphalt of other impervious surfaces increased 4 percent.
American Forests worked with local, state and federal partners to analyze the effects of 16 years of landcover in the three counties. The ecosystem analysis was conducted using Landsat satellite imagery over a 16-year period. Grewelle and Russell Stringer, urban forester for the city of Montgomery, said the loss of tree cover has a definite negative environmental impact on the region. Stringer said the loss is more common in urban areas because the land is bulldozed for commercial or residential developments, and trees are never replanted. Tree loss leads to a reduction in the quality of air and storm water runoff. The study shows trees lost the ability to absorb an additional 8.9 million pounds of air pollution. There also was a significant decrease in the capacity for storm water retention.