When compared to the traditional row-column wavelet transform, the line-based wavelet transform can achieve significant memory savings. However, the design of an image codec using the line-based wavelet transform is an intricate task because of the irregular order in which the wavelet coefficients are generated. The independent block coding feature of JPEG2000 makes it work effectively with the line-based wavelet transform. However, with wavelet tree-based image codecs, such as set partitioning in hierarchical trees, the memory usage of the codecs does not realize significant advantage with the line-based wavelet transform because many wavelet coefficients must be buffered before the coding starts. In this paper, the line-based wavelet transform was utilized to facilitate backward coding of wavelet trees (BCWT). Although the BCWT algorithm is a wavelet tree-based algorithm, its coding order differs from that of the traditional wavelet tree-based algorithms, which allows the proposed line-based image codec to become more memory efficient than other line-based image codecs, including line-based JPEG2000, while still offering comparable rate distortion performance and much lower system complexity.