If you want to walk on the sunny side of Charlotte, head to the citys newest neighborhoods, in the southwest part of the city and around Ballantyne.
Those are the areas where the fewest trees are standing, according to a detailed survey released by the city Friday.
The citys goal is to have a 50 percent tree canopy by 2050, meaning half of the city would fall under a trees shade. The canopy is at 46 percent today, and city officials are scrambling to preserve trees amid expanding urbanization.
In some parts of the city, we take down trees due to development, or trees are aging out, said Gina Shell, deputy director of the citys engineering and property management department. On the other hand, people are planting. Its an ever-changing dynamic.
There are about 10,000 new tree plantings a year in Charlotte. To reach the 50 percent threshold, the city estimates it will need 25,000 new plantings a year.
A typical tree planted in a neighborhood can cost $25, Shell said.
In response to the Charlotte City Council, which asked for more detail on the tree canopy, the city did a neighborhood-by-neighborhood study of the tree cover.
City staff used aerial photographs from 2008, as well as site inspections, to compile a detailed list that was released Friday.
In City Council District 6, which is much of leafy south Charlotte, few sizeable neighborhoods made the list.
One is the Galleria area, off Monroe and Sardis roads. It covers 96 acres and has only a 12 percent tree canopy.
But in some of the citys fast-growing areas, there are noticeably fewer trees.
Of the 211 acres that make up the Planters Walk neighborhood in southwest Charlotte, only 6 percent have a tree canopy.
In Southampton Commons, south of Ardrey Kell Road, only 4 percent of the neighborhoods 86 acres are covered by trees.
There are also a few neighborhoods in northeast Charlotte with little tree cover, such as Sinclair Place and Arbors at Mallard Creek. And, not surprisingly, much of uptown is mostly concrete, with little green.
Preserving the citys trees has at times been a push and pull between developers.
In September 2010, the city passed revisions to its 1978 tree-protection ordinance, which now requires developers to save 15 percent of trees in commercial development.
However, council members have allowed developers to opt out of saving some trees, for a fee.
The City Council is considering a matching grant program to help neighborhoods pay for the cost of planting trees.
The program could be similar to an effort launched last year in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood, off Brookshire Boulevard between Oakdale and Sunset roads.
Developed about 10 years ago, the 28-acre site was clear-cut, leaving few trees. The neighborhoods canopy is now 14 percent and should grow even larger as newly planted trees mature.