Does Money Grow on Your Trees?

May 7, 2010 by

Want to know the environmental and economic value your trees provide on an annual basis? The Tree Benefit Calculator allows you to make this simple estimation. Input your location by zip code to find your climate zone, add the tree species and size, and the calculator outputs out a dollar sum reflecting the benefits your tree provides.

According to the calculator, my Maple tree provides an overall monetary benefit of $300 per year. In addition to raising my property value by $138 this year, my tree will save me 166 Kilowatt / hours of electricity for cooling and will reduce my consumption of oil or natural gas by 58 therm(s). By intercepting 3,753 gallons of stormwater runoff, it will help protect my community’s water system.

Diagram courtesy of Arbor Day Foundation

About Stormwater Runoff
Urban stormwater runoff (or “non-point source pollution”) washes chemicals (oil, gasoline, salts, etc.) and litter from surfaces such as roadways and parking lots into streams, wetlands, rivers and oceans.  The more impervious the surface (e.g., concrete, asphalt, rooftops), the more quickly pollutants are washed into our community waterways. Drinking water, aquatic life and the health of our entire ecosystem can be adversely effected by this process.

Trees act as mini-reservoirs, controlling runoff at the source. Trees reduce runoff by:
• Intercepting and holding rain on leaves, branches and bark
• Increasing infiltration and storage of rainwater through the tree’s root system
• Reducing soil erosion by slowing rainfall before it strikes the soil

Photo by Cindi Hachey

In general, my Maple will supposedly reduce atmospheric carbon by 1,439 pounds. How significant is this number? Most car owners of an “average” car (mid-sized sedan) drive 12,000 miles generating about 11,000 pounds of CO2 every year. A flight from New York to Los Angeles adds 1,400 pounds of CO2 per passenger.

For more information visit The Center for Urban Forest Research.


  1. Georgia said:

    I am a big fan of CUFR’s research. Have you heard of the Trees Near You ( iPhone app that uses city tree census data to help New Yorkers id street trees? Also, the relaunched Urban Forest Map in San Francisco? Hey, I should blog about these three tree technologies!

    — May 7, 2010 @ 21:32

  2. Winter Gardening: Thinking Outside of the Cold Frame | Urban Gardens | Unlimited Thinking For Limited Spaces Pingback said:

    […] her subtle works of art in the textures and patterns of different barks. Learning to recognize a tree by its bark makes a relationship with Mother Nature […]

    — January 30, 2011 @ 13:42

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