Recent research conducted by Theodore Endreny, Dr. David Nowak of the USDA Forest Service and Scott Maco from the Davey Institute generated some insights about the value of urban trees. Of course, we all know they provide shade and add beauty to cityscapes which otherwise might be rather barren. However, they also provide value which can be measured in economic terms.
- Cities see an average US $2.25 return for every dollar invested in planting trees.
- $7.9 million was the median annual value of carbon dioxide sequestered by megacity tree cover. This value was $17,000 per square kilometer.
- $242 million was the value of total CO2 stored using a measure called the social cost of carbon.
- $505 million was the median annual value of all services provided by the trees, or $967,000 per square kilometer of tree cover.
- $0.93 million in air pollution health care costs was saved for each square kilometer. Other savings were $20,000 by capturing water runoff, and $478,000 in building building energy heating and cooling savings.
What’s more, many more trees can be planted in urban areas to increase benefits, “All of the cities we studied had the potential to add additional trees, with about 18% of the metropolitan area on average available. Potential spots included areas with sidewalks, parking lots and plaza areas. The tree’s canopy could extend above the human-occupied area, with the trunk positioned to allow for pedestrian passage or parking,” explained Theodore Endreny.
Tree planting or donating to plant them is a very effective way to make a positive difference in the world. It is also a great way to leave an enduring legacy, because trees can live for many years after we are gone.
A side note
My grandfather planted dozens of fir trees to celebrate the births of his children and grandchildren. When I was five to ten years old, I would visit a patch of land near his home which sort of resembled a very small Christmas tree farm. He would mow the grass and weeds between the trees he planted so you could walk among the trees of various heights and widths. When I was an adult, I recalled his tree planting and the stand of firs and began donating to Heifer International for the planting of seedlings. Over a number of years, I donated enough to plant about 8,000, and just donated $10 to plant some more.
If you want to, call them up, make a small donation, and comment that you did on this article, so we can plant some trees together.