Our Urban Ecosystem

Madison's parks, open space, and other urban green areas are an essential part of our community's fabric. They provide space for recreation and connecting with nature, areas for plants and animals to thrive, and for important ecosystem services that provide clean air and water, air temperature regulation, carbon sequestration, noise reduction, and stormwater management, just to name a few. Read below to learn more about the City of Madison's work to manage our urban ecosystem for the health and wellbeing of our environment and our community.

Bees on purple flowers

Parks and Open Space

The City of Madison Parks Division manages over 270 parks totaling more than 5,600 acres of land and is responsible for over 6,000 acres of public land in total. The additional acreage includes land such as street ends and right-of-ways. Check out the 2018-2023 Parks and Open Space Plan to learn more about current and future work to maintain and enhance parks, natural resources and recreational opportunities.

Use the Find a Park tool to plan your next park visit.

Greenways & Prairie Plantings

The City of Madison Stormwater Management system is comprised of 1,500+ acres of stormwater land. Learn how planting stormwater land with native plants helps prevent flooding, provide quality urban wildlife habitat, and create recreational space. 


Native prairie plantings are just one way the City of Madison is working to protect and provide habitat for pollinators. Learn how we're working to increase pollinator habitat on City property and and throughout the community. 

Trees and the Urban Forest

Madison's urban forest provides essential benefits to both people and wildlife. Our trees provide cleaner air and water, reduced stormwater runoff, and lower air temperature while also helping to combat climate change by capturing and storing carbon. Trees are the first, most successful, and most widely available carbon-capture technology. Trees also improve our health and wellbeing. 

There are approximately 11,000 acres of public and private tree canopy in the City of Madison, accounting for 22.4% of the City’s entire land area. Trees on City property are primarily managed by two agencies.

Two city of Madison workers plant a new tree downtown.
City staff plant a new tree along a downtown sidewalk. The City of Madison plants over 3,000 trees every year.

The City of Madison's Forestry section of the Streets Division provides tree planting, pruning, and maintenance for over 96,000 trees along more than 700 miles of Madison streets. Learn more about their work to keep our urban forest healthy and resilient and the resources they provide for trees on private property. The City of Madison's Parks Division manages trees across the network of parkland in the city.

The Urban Forestry Task Force Report, approved in 2020, provides goals and recommendations for planning and design, outreach and education, canopy coverage, and forestry operations and public lands. 

Logo for the Dane County Tree Canopy Working Group

Dane County Tree Canopy Working Group

The City of Madison is a member of the Dane County Tree Canopy Working Group, a collaboration among local governments, planning organizations, academic partners, and state agencies that aims to identify opportunities and strategies for protecting existing trees and equitably expanding tree canopy across Dane county.