The Money in Trees

Here at SeeClickFix, we love us some trees. We love supporting organizations that encourage community events around trees. We like planting them ourselves. We even climb the occasional tree. The premise of SeeClickFix is that individuals can act to improve their own neighborhoods, so our enthusiasm for trees is largely based on an assumption that their natural beauty improves communities and supports the local environment. The findings of some recent studies indicate that the benefits of trees may be more quantifiable than we realized.

For instance, a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania looked into whether an intentional effort to green a neighborhood could reverse the decline of a blighted area. The studies' found that planting a tree within 50 feet of a house can increase its value by about 9%. Moreover, Susan Watcher, the Professor who led the study note "People are not only more willing to choose this neighborhood and pay more for living in this neighborhood, but it also spurs other reinvestment." This virtuous cycle sounds a bit like the work going on at a local underpass, which began with some tree plantings and continue through Inside Out NHV.

The good news does not end there. A study conducted in Tennessee by The Department of Agriculture determined that the state receives a cumulative benefit of $638 million for just the trees found in urban areas, which breaks down to about $2.25 per tree per year. This benefit was largely due to the carbon storage capacity of the trees, which cut down on the pollution in the air, thereby enhancing the quality of life and well being for the community.

To a certain degree, it doesn't make sense to calculate the contributions that trees make monetarily. The value a vibrant community brings to its members can't entirely be captured in dollars. However, as municipalities continue to be strained financially because of the economy, it's important to remember how resources like trees enrich neighborhoods.