Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open to visitors by appointment only. Please call or email from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
703-324-7136 TTY 711
12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 533
Fairfax, VA 22035
John Morrill


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Natural Resources Metrics

Natural resources such as trees, wetlands, streams, farms, and parks enhance our community’s quality of life, health, and aesthetic beauty. Natural resources also help us mitigate climate change and improve resilience to climatic hazards. The Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) includes one strategy dedicated to natural resources preservation and restoration, with a sector-based goal to increase tree canopy throughout the county. Resilient Fairfax has one of the four pillars devoted to the role of natural resources in promoting resilience.

This page highlights natural resource sector specific metrics for progress in implementing both CECAP and Resilient Fairfax, along with general statistics about natural resources in Fairfax County. For more information and a list of partner agencies, please see the Natural Resources topic page.

General Natural Resources Statistics

  • The existing 44,400,000 forest and neighborhood trees in Fairfax County cover 55.4% of the county's land area.
  • Fairfax County is also home to over 68 square miles of parkland, including both county and non-county parks.
  • According to the Trees Community of Practice survey, 16,000 trees were planted in 2022

Natural Resources and Park Land Maps for NR

Use our Interactive Climate Action Viewer to view where these resources are located in Fairfax County.

screenshot of ARCGIS tree canopy layer with legend



Tree Canopy in Fairfax County

natural resources donut showing 2.4%

Trees help to mitigate climate change by absorbing (sequestering) carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants. Fairfax County’s existing trees sequester approximately half a million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, or about 5% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions in Fairfax County. Trees also provide other climate benefits.  For example, trees that shade our buildings reduce the amount of fossil-fuel based power we use for air conditioning. 

The CECAP goal for the Natural Resources is to expand the tree canopy (from 55%) to 60% with a minimum of 40% tree canopy coverage in every census tract* by 2030 and a minimum of 50% tree canopy coverage in every census tract by 2050, prioritizing areas of highest socioeconomic need first. This goal accounts for 2.4% of the emissions reduction needed to meet the CECAP goal. (*Note: While this CECAP sector goal refers to census “blocks,” the county’s socioeconomic data are analyzed at the larger census “tract” or census “block group” level.)

COMMUNITY (CECAP) GOAL: Expand tree canopy to 60% coverage overall in the county by 2030

CECAP_ Expand tree canopy to 60% coverage overall in the county by 2030 goal bar with progress showing 55%

COMMUNITY (CECAP) GOAL: 100% of Census Tracts have at least 40% canopy by 2030

CECAP_ 100% of Census Tracts have at least 40% canopy by 2030 goal bar with progress showing 72%

COMMUNITY (CECAP) PROGRESS TO DATE: Currently, approximately 55% of the land area in Fairfax County is covered in tree canopy. There are many tree-planting programs that are working towards increasing this coverage. Preservation of existing tree canopy is also important in reaching this goal. Tree canopy coverage varies across the county, with some areas being urbanized and other areas forested. Therefore, tracking progress at the census track level helps prioritizing and promote tree preservation and planting programs. Currently, 72% of census tracts are meeting the goal of having 40% tree canopy by 2030.  

In alignment with One Fairfax, tree plantings are prioritized in census tracts that have high socioeconomic need and inadequate tree canopy. More information on trees in Fairfax County can be found on Fairfax County's Urban Forest Management page.


Resilience Benefits of Natural Resources

Natural resources also help us adapt to the effects of climate change and boost our climate resilience by absorbing floodwater, reducing storm-related erosion, and reducing urban heat island effects. 

For example, Fairfax County’s existing trees are estimated to intercept 7.3 billion gallons of rainfall per year, helping us to avoid 945 million gallons of stormwater runoff, and saving us $8.4 million in stormwater mitigation, according to iTree. Trees also greatly reduce the Urban Heat Island effect, keeping our communities cooler during extreme heat. Similarly, healthy wetlands and living shorelines help to absorb storm surge and other types of flooding.

The Resilient Fairfax Plan includes several strategies to protect and restore natural resources for climate resilience purposes. These strategies include protection of sensitive land, tree plantings and reforestation, green infrastructure, living shorelines, wetland and floodplain restorations, stream restoration, regenerative agriculture, and more.

Vulnerabilities of Natural Resources

To get these benefits from our natural resources, they need to be protected and made more resilient.  Natural resources are themselves vulnerable to the effects of climate change. They are often severely damaged or weakened by severe storms, heat waves, and flooding.

A summary of these vulnerabilities to natural resources can be found in the table below. These vulnerability scores are based on a combination of exposure (how exposed is the resource to the hazard, and is the hazard increasing or decreasing?), sensitivity (is the resource damaged by the hazard?), and adaptive capacity (can the resource adapt to this hazard?). For a detailed description of vulnerabilities, please see the Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment. An interactive map of these natural resources and certain climate hazards can be found in the Resilient Fairfax Interactive Map Viewer.

Natural Resources Vulnerability Graphic

Natural Resources

Ready to take action? Visit our Natural Resource page for more information on protecting and preserving trees and green spaces to help mitigate climate change and improve resilience.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant