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Urban Trees: Growing Assets

As everyone in the green industry knows, trees add value to properties, both residential and commercial. Real estate companies can tell you that mature trees can raise the selling price for a property, sometimes thousands of dollars over similar properties with no trees. With this in mind, it stands to reason that we can attach specific values to each individual tree in the urban forest and subsequently to the urban forest as a whole. But how does this benefit towns and cities across the United States?


In a recent publication entitled Municipal Tree Care and Management in the United States: A 2014 Urban & Community Forestry Census of Tree Activities, information about all aspects of urban forestry was gathered from towns and cities across the nation. In reading the report, one item that really caught my eye was the value of urban trees. The report states that urban forest is “a public asset that can be quantified and recorded in city financial records”. According to the report, the value placed on public trees in the southern region of the country comes to $1,010 per tree. As you can imagine, this can add up in a hurry. Let’s use Wilmington as an example. We fall into the report’s 100,000-250,000 population classification. With 384 cities of that size responding to the survey, the average value of public trees as assets weighs in at $98,460,117! With responding cities in this classification having an average annual urban forestry budget of $1,368,607, we can see that the return on investment is very impressive. The entire report can be found here:


So what can be done with this information? If the governing bodies in our towns and cities realize the magnitude of the assets we have growing along our streets, we may begin to see some changes in the importance placed on urban forestry. So let’s share this with anyone that will listen, and lead the charge for the further advancement of urban forestry programs.


Aaron Reese
Forestry Management Supervisor
City of Wilmington, NC