How Much is a Tree Worth to a City?

Nate Berg reports on several recent pilot studies that have quantified the economic, aesthetic and energy saving benefits of urban trees and why the costs for replacing them can be formidable.

April 12, 2012, 5:00 AM PDT

By Alesia Hsiao


While the aesthetic value of street trees may be easy to appreciate, a recent study of Tennessee's urban trees aimed to monetize the much wider range of benefits that such trees can provide to their communities, demonstrating that such benefits can amount to millions in savings.

According to the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who released the results of their pilot study earlier this year, "through energy savings, air and water filtering and carbon storage, the urban trees of Tennessee account for more than $638 million in benefits," without considering aesthetic values.

"The method used for estimating tree values is commonly used and was developed by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers." Indiana, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Colorado have also started to appraise the value of trees by conducting similar pilot studies, notes Berg.

The Tennessee report also calls attention to the cost of threats to trees from various invasive species and diseases. "If every urban tree in the state were to die, the cost of replacing them is estimated at $79.5 billion." The astronomical price tag highlights the importance of doing more work to counteract these dangers.

Monday, April 9, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16 - Trust for Public Land

View of Louisiana state capitol building and downton Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana Capital Shifting to Electric Transit

The Baton Rouge area is now served by a fleet of nine all-electric buses.

May 16 - American Journal of Transportation

Mount Rainier

New Community Engagement Practices for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan Update

A major update of Seattle’s comprehensive plan is just getting under way, with new opportunities for local groups to get involved with outreach and engagement.

May 16 - Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.