New research estimates the value of Seattle’s urban forest!

Forterra has long recognized the importance of Seattle’s urban forests, parks and green spaces. They provide amazing access to nature for the city’s residents, help curb pollution, cool the city, absorb carbon dioxide, and much more. It was because we recognized the significance of these trees that we helped launch the Green Seattle Partnership in 2004 with the City of Seattle and other local nonprofit partners. But, until recently, much of that value was derived from research on non-urban forests or anecdotal understandings of the contributions trees provide.

Now, thanks to the publication of Seattle’s Forest Ecosystem Values: Analysis of the Structure, Function, and Economic Values, which documents the findings of a multi-year research effort by the Green Cities Research Alliance (GCRA), Seattle has hard science about the monetary value of their trees and the impact they have on carbon sequestration, energy, pollution and more.

Data in the report was compiled using the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree Eco tool, the first use in Seattle. Given the Pacific Northwest’s unique climate, ecosystem and tree species, Seattle was previously not well served by similar urban forestry research from other parts of the country.

Some of the most exciting findings from the report include:

  • Seattle trees and shrubs are worth roughly $4.9 billion dollars (that’s what it would cost to replace them all)
  • They save the city around $23 million annually in carbon storage, pollution removal and residential energy savings, establishing Seattle’s urban forest as an irreplaceable capital asset
  • There are an estimated 4.35 million trees and tree-like shrubs in Seattle, which equates to a density of nearly 80 trees per acre
  • The three most common species measured were red alder, big leaf maple, and beaked hazelnut, all of which are native to this region.

This research is based on field data collection from 2011 and 2012 in 223 1/10-acre research plots distributed on both public and private property throughout the City of Seattle. Crews recorded size and species information for trees and tree-like shrubs, as well as land use and ground cover information.

The Green Cities Research Alliance is comprised of people from Forterra, USDA Forest Service, University of Washington, King County, and the City of Seattle, all of whom contributed to the research. GCRA was initiated by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in 2009 to build a program of research about urban ecosystems in the Puget Sound region. GCRA pairs scientists with practitioners and local decision makers to co-design and implement research efforts that provide relevant and practical information.

Download a copy of the 26-page report to read about all of GCRA’s fascinating findings, our research methodology and more!


Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods Program

Free Single Trees Seeking Tree-Loving Homes in  Seattle

Free trees are waiting for you! Do you live in Seattle? Do you have an empty space in your yard where a beautiful tree could thrive? Are you someone who appreciates trees? Do you like the way their leaves and needles flutter in the wind? Do you like how they smell? Do you think they help your neighborhood look more attractive?

If so, then Seattle reLeaf and Cascade Land Conservancy invite you to apply for up to 4 free trees to plant at home to help keep our city green and healthy.

Our trees are looking for tree-loving homes – but they’ll be gone soon! We have Western red cedars, Deodar cedars, tupelos, and shore pines remaining. Might you be the person for them? Please fill out the application, and select one of the above mentioned species to secure your free trees.

Interested? Apply by October 24th:

Want to know more about these trees?

  • Lewis and Clark thought that Western red cedars were amazing enough to be called the “trees of life” -arbor vitae. Plant one in your backyard and you’ll be on your way to helping our cities be full of life
  • The gorgeous Deodar cedar is native to the Himalayan region, but grows wonderfully in the Pacific Northwest. It has a long history in India, where its Hindu name means “revered tree.”
  • The tupelo tree is a great medium-sized tree for a yard that is looking for some brilliant leaf coloring.  Tupelo leaves are a dark glossy green in the spring and summer and  turn bright colors- mostly red, but some yellow just as the gray skies come rolling in.  Tupelo is used in the south to make the famous “Tupelo honey.”
  • Shore pines are quite the opposite of the straight and orderly pine you might imagine. As its scientific name, Pinus contorta ssp. Contorta, suggests, it can grow crooked branches – an attractive addition to your backyard.

Want more information?

Join us for Green Seattle Day 2010!

Looking to volunteer in a local park,  plant native trees and shrubs, and get to know your neighbors? If so, then Green Seattle Day on November 6th from 10am-2pm is the event for you!
Green Seattle Day is the kick off to the Green Seattle Partnership planting season and is a celebration of our neighborhood parks and committed volunteers. On November 6th from 10am-2pm, 1,000 volunteers are expected to gather in 14 parks across Seattle to lend a hand in restoration.   Interested volunteers can search for a local park and register on the Green Seattle Partnership Website:

You maybe thinking, “Why should I spend the day in a local park when I could be sitting on the couch watching TV?” Well, here are just a few reasons:
1. Green Seattle Day gives you they opportunity to take an active role in the restoration of your local park. More than that! You will get to name the plant you put in the ground and you can return and give your plant pep talks, or take photos as it grows throughout the years!

2.The day of volunteering will allow you to meet your neighbors and even make some new friends. We have found that pulling out ivy and planting trees are actions that bring out the friend making vibes in folks.

3. FREE STUFF! ohhh, now I have your attention. We are going to be giving out fancy Green Seattle Partnership t-shirts to all present volunteers and there will also be some other sweet giveaways at our hub sites, Lower Woodland Park and Camp Long. Not all sites have the same giveaways, but you will be greatly rewarded with a happy feeling inside no matter where you spend the day volunteering and having fun.

So! We would like to cordially invite you NO, challenge you to spend your Saturday morning on November 6th hanging out with GSP folks, planting trees, and making new friends. Find your local park and sign up for a work party ( ! See you in the parks!!!

If you have any questions or would like to organize a group of volunteers for the event please contact Katie at or 206-905-6952.