The Value of Urban Trees

Green Seattle event in Interlaken

Tree enthusiasts (hello!) know that urban trees are crucial for our communities – we feel it in our bones – but, how can we quantify this for our less enthusiastic neighbors?

A recent article in The Atlantic discusses “The Case for More Urban Trees” with a variety of new evidence for tree benefits. Programs in both the other Washington (D.C.) and San Diego County have cropped up, profiling the urban canopy. Interactive maps then allow users to view a summary of the benefits trees have for our community from carbon sequestration to water retention, energy conservation, and air pollution reduction. These tools put real numbers to the abstract benefits that city dwellers feel everyday.

In fact, these tools are not limited to specific counties in the country. The Casey Tree Foundation developed a Tree Benefit Calculator, where you can enter your location and tree species to discover the monetary benefit to your neighborhood or city. Intrigued, I looked up the benefits of the London Planetree right outside the Forterra office in downtown Seattle. At about 20 inches in diameter, our tree has $101 worth of benefits to the area mostly from the property value and stormwater mitigation. Trees have an extremely important and now more tangible value for our cities.

Photo by Andrea Carey

Even more incredibly, Seattle understands these benefits especially for city infrastructure like stormwater maintenance. The reLeaf program offers four FREE trees to city residents to keep the Emerald City green. Puns aside, city government is responding to the financial value of urban greenery that arborist  research can pinpoint. Here at Green City Partnerships, we fully support this symbiotic relationship.

What other programs support urban trees?

4 Replies to “The Value of Urban Trees”

  1. FOLKpark (Friends of Lower Kinnear Park) has successfully tagged and identified over 200 trees in the park. With the help of summer intern Cayce James (now getting her masters at UW’s School of Landscape Architecture) they are all entered into the Tree Benefit Calculator. It is a great tool to help us select the best trees for replanting our urban forest.

    1. That’s SO cool! I’m always excited to hear about the awesome, self-motivated projects that volunteer groups are doing. What a contribution to better understanding these precious resources. Keep up the great work.

  2. I am big time support of ‘Buy a tree and watch it grow through Google maps’ initiative. I think that is like an emotional call for plantation. You can see your little one growing each and every day 🙂
    But distribution free trees to the residents is also a good idea.
    I am sure this would have been a great success!

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