California’s urban trees offer $1bn in benefits annually

California and its residents get more than $1 billion worth of benefits from trees lining the state’s streets and roads, researchers with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station found in a new study.

To estimate the worth of trees, the researcher with the federal Forest Service made use of an online tree inventory called “i-Tree” to plot the species, size and location of the state’s urban trees.

The list of the most lucrative services that trees provide includes energy savings worth $101.15 million; CO2 storage worth $10.32 million; and filtering of air pollutants worth $18.15 million. In addition, trees boost property values by an estimated $838.94 million.

Researcher Greg McPherson, the lead author of the study, said, “We’ve calculated for every $1 spent on planting or maintaining a street tree, that tree returns, on average, $5.82 in benefits. These trees are benefiting their communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

The state enjoys a comparatively even distribution of tree species, but the majority of communities are over-dependent on a single tree species, which could make their arbor-derived benefits susceptible to pests and diseases.

The study is a strong reminder of the various monetary benefits that trees provide to cities and their residents. The Golden State’s street tree population has significantly increased over the last couple of decades, but there is still plenty of room for planting more trees and reaping additional benefits.