Tag Archives: ecosystem services

Cities Map, Manage and Maintain Urban Trees

Fall trees with crosswalk signalAs financially constrained cities struggle to grow and manage their urban tree canopy, dedicated nonprofits, institutions and volunteers have joined forces to help U.S. cities map and maintain their street trees. These organizations often champion urban forestry mapping projects, helping municipalities select diversified species of trees and identify new planting needs. In turn, many open-source mapping services have emerged, providing a low- to no-cost platform for mapping street trees and quantifying the significant ecological services they provide.

An accurate inventory helps cities manage their trees and prioritize maintenance needs. Successful endeavors to map street trees are underway in cities across the country. New York City’s TreesCount!, an effort to map every tree in the city, counted and collected data for 650,000 trees with the help of more than 2,000 volunteers. In San Francisco, a collaboration between the city and a local nonprofit led to the launch of Urban Forest Map, an effort to count street trees and assess their canopy with an eco-benefit tool, providing a one-stop shop for tree data. In the nation’s capital, Casey Trees aims to preserve Washington D.C.’s street trees through mapping, field work and aerial imagery. Many of these mapping initiatives are large-scale, citizen science projects that rely on community members to contribute tree data using apps on their mobile devices.

Tree mapping data is used to estimate the environmental and economic benefits street trees provide. Mapping software tools like OpenTreeMap quantify services in terms of dollars in a user-friendly format. Improved air quality through carbon sequestration, improved water quality through natural stormwater management, and heat island reduction are a few ecosystem services trees provide. In addition to these services, well-maintained street trees boost local economies by increasing property values and creating safe, vibrant public spaces. Tree maps can be used as environmental education tools and to help build communities around urban forests. Investing in tree inventory data is a great way for cities to adapt to changing climates and improve many public health issues.

Here in Kansas City, where tree cover is around 18 percent, mapping has not been completed for individual trees. However, the iTree Eco Model, used to advance understanding of forest resources, assessed economic value the region’s trees provide. The total value of ecosystem services trees provide is a staggering $93.4 billion in the Greater Kansas City region.  Data from iTree can help the metro area better care for our thriving urban forest and maintain it for the future. Results from the study can be found in MARC’s Tree Data Summary.

Share via emailShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin it on Pinterest+1Digg ThisSubmit to reddit

Celebrating Trees beyond Arbor Days

Photo of three teenagers watering newly planted trees

As petals from blooms speckle the pavement after spring showers, trees catch our eyes and our attention. But after the rich purples, deep reds and bright yellows have disappeared from our daily surroundings, will we continue to notice our trees, and think of all that they do for us? In both urban and rural areas, trees contribute significantly to human health and environmental quality by providing various ecosystem services (i.e., the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life).

National Arbor Day is observed on the last Friday in April. The state of Kansas will observe the holiday on April 24, 2015, while Missouri’s Arbor Day is April 3.

Local events

April 4 — Annual Sapling Giveaway at Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens,
Overland Park, Kansas

April 18 — KC Parks Arbor Day event at Loose Park, 5200 Wornall, Kansas City, Missouri

April 24 —Arbor Day Celebration at Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens,
Overland Park, Kansas

April 24 — Arbor Day Celebration at Overland Park City Hall, 8500 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, Kansas

April 25 — Earth Day/Arbor Day Celebration Gardner Greenway Corridor – Madison Street, Gardner, Kansas

 

The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages residents to plant native trees. (See the tree selection and planting guide on the Missouri Department of Conservation website.) A state proclamation notes that trees are an integral part of Missouri’s quality of life:

  • Forests cover nearly one-third of the state.
  • Forests provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for streams and rivers.
  • Forests provide employment for more than 33,000 people who convert trees into essential products.
  • Forests contribute beauty and shade to urban, suburban and rural areas while creating a more pleasant and healthful environment.
  • Missouri will continue to benefit from its forests for succeeding generations through tree planting and conservation.

 

“Assessing Urban Forest Effects and Values: the Greater Kansas City Region,” published by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, lists a variety of ways that the MARC region benefits from its forests, including:

  • Water Quality: Tree coverage helps reduce total suspended solids found in streamways by natural filtration and reduces the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in new growth every year.
  • Air Quality: The urban forest improves air quality by reducing air temperature, directly removing air pollutants and reducing energy consumption in buildings (meaning less emissions generated from power sources.)
  • Stormwater Management: Increasing tree cover reduces stormwater drainage from both pervious and impervious areas.
  • Energy Conservation: Trees help conserve energy by shading buildings, providing evaporative cooling and blocking winter winds.
  • Carbon Removal/Storage: Trees in the Kansas City metro remove about 1 million tons of carbon per year (valued at $20.7 million) in addition to storing 19.9 million tons of carbon (valued at $411 million).

Remove 1 million more tons of air pollution each year. The study also found that increasing our tree cover by just 10 percent would:

  • Remove 3.1 million tons more VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions each year.
  • Sequester 9.4 million more tons of carbon each year.
Share via emailShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin it on Pinterest+1Digg ThisSubmit to reddit