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Ohio State projects finds there’s money in those maples

In this article with the Columbus Dispatch, Scott Maco, director of research and development at Davey, tells readers about the monetary value of trees. 

Posted: June 7, 2015 

By Reis Thebault

An Ohio State University project suggests that money really does grow on trees. 

“Why Trees Matter” takes a stroll along tree-lined streets to a whole new level by assigning dollar values to various arboreal services, such as carbon capture and energy efficiency.  

James Chatfield, an OSU extension specialist and contributor to the project, said the goal is simple: “To give people an understanding that economic benefits of trees exist and to help people understand what the value of the community forest is.” So how much are Columbus’ trees worth? A 2010 audit by OSU researchers assigned an annual value of about $8.6 million to the 90,696 trees.

“Why Trees Matter” incorporates a program called iTree, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and a number of groups and companies including Kent, Ohio-based Davey Tree Expert Co.

iTree was created to provide researchers and urban planners tools to analyze the benefits of urban trees.

For example, an American sycamore with a trunk 35 inches in diameter in Columbus provides about $345 a year in services.

How? For one thing, its canopy can slow rainwater and aid in evaporating it after a rainfall, saving about $165 in stormwater runoff prevention. And the shade it provides in summer and the windscreen it provides in winter can save $85 on heating and cooling costs by providing shade in summer and a windscreen in winter.

Scott Maco, Davey Tree’s director of research and development, said this sort of analysis is just the beginning.

“What we can do in iTree right now in terms of quantification is at best 5 or 10 percent of the benefits trees provide,” he said.

Maco said experts can even calculate the value of reducing health issues such as asthma by cutting air pollution.

Mike Kuhn, a professor in the Wildland Resources Department at Utah State University, cited a study that suggests trees planted along curbs slow traffic and reduce crashes.

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