I think that I shall never see an investment as lovely as a tree.
OK, maybe it's a poetic stretch, but a U.S. Forest Service study of the Minneapolis street-tree program said it returns $1.59 in benefits for every $1 spent on planting and maintenance.
Researchers found city street trees:
– Diverted up more than 3 billion gallons of stormwater, saving the city $9.1 million in stormwater treatment and flooding and erosion costs (or approximately $46 per tree);
– Saved citizens $6.8 million in energy bills due to the shading and cooling effects (or approximately $34 per tree);
– Reduced 55,125 tons of carbon dioxide - worth $826,000 for reducing one of the damaging components of ozone (or approximately $4 per tree); and
– Added $7.1 million to property values and aesthetics (or approximately $36 per tree).
Greg McPherson of the U.S. Forest Service Center for the Urban Forest Research in Davis, Calif., led the research effort. Researchers presented their findings at an Oct. 21 Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting.
Among the study's findings, American elms now account for only 10 percent of the street tree population, but provide 28 percent of the benefits because of their size and canopy.
Researchers analyzed 900 trees, according to a Forest Service news release and information provided to the Park Board. Minneapolis was one of a few cities chosen to study because of its nationally recognized street tree program, the news release said.
It is the first city in the nation to pilot “i-Tree” software, a program that reviews the environmental and economic benefits of the urban forest. The program is a public private partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Research Group.
The study estimates the city has more than 198,000 street trees that shade approximately 11 percent of the city.