We love our trees.  We love our trees as landscapers, as homeowners, and as human beings.  We value their beauty, shade, and environmental significance.  Trees are valuable.  But can you put a price on their value?  Can you quantitatively estimate their value…in dollars?  The answer is yes.

The USDA Forest Service developed software, entitled i-Tree.  The software determines the value of a tree canopy in good ole American dollars.  i-Tree calculates the leaf surface area of a city and then determines the economic value of that canopy.  In doing so, values are assigned to a number of categories, including reducing storm water runoff, lowering summer air temperatures, reducing air pollution, reducing heating and cooling costs, reducing CO2, enhancing property values, providing wildlife habitats, improving health and wellbeing, improving learning and concentration, and providing aesthetic benefits.  Many communities who have used the software are starting to realize the monetary value of their trees, and it’s simply astounding!  For example, in the city of Mesquite, Texas, they were able to determine there are over 2 million trees which calculates to 24.4% tree cover.  Because of that 24.4% tree cover, 288 tons per year of pollution is removed at an annual savings of $1.54 million.  31,900 tons of oxygen is produced, equalling $773,000 in energy savings per year, and rainfall interception is calculated at $2.01 million annually.  Huge numbers, yes?  Impressive savings, yes?  Trees are truly valuable, yes?  Yes!

Now, for many years prior, there was another way to calculate the value of a tree, but for very different reasons under completely different circumstances.  Lawyers and insurance companies came up with a way to place a monetary value on a tree based on its species, size, and location.  This information was used in property line disputes, insurance claims, etc.  Hardly as in-depth as i-Tree and perhaps not as completely altruistic, but useful in its own right.

Trees are truly giving for more reasons than I ever considered, and their value is now both measurable and immeasurable.  I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a tree the same way again.  They are truly some of the best natural assets we have.

“Trees are one of our most valuable assets.”

– Lynn Artz

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney