Tag Archives: trees

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.

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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.
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Trees are worth celebrating!

iTreeWhatDoTreesDoThis year, the national celebration of Arbor Day is today, April 25 and we think that’s a great reason to tout the benefits of trees. In fact, MARC has an entire webpage dedicated to just that! (Kansas also celebrates today, and Missouri celebrated Arbor Day on April 4.)

The benefits of trees span several aspects of helping our environment, including improving air quality and stormwater management, conserving energy, and removing and storing carbon. An increase in tree cover by just 10 percent would remove 1 million additional tons of air pollution per year.

What do trees do for you? Leave a comment, or connect with us on social media to let us know!

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Celebrating the value of trees


Look outside – do you see a tree or two? In Greater Kansas City, more than 249 million trees provide a wealth of services and benefits. From removing pollution and storing carbon from CO2 emissions (also known as carbon sequestration) to providing shade to lower cooling costs, each tree provides hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in benefits to our region. It would cost tens of billions of dollars to replicate the benefits that our trees and forests provide to us virtually free of charge. In addition to the eco-services they provide, trees are also a natural source of beauty and provide shelter for both people and wildlife.What do trees do for you? Online advertising art.

MARC worked with professionals and scientists from the U.S. Forest Service, Davey Resource Group and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to publish “Assessing Urban Forest Effects and Values: the Greater Kansas City Region,” which takes a scientific approach toward calculating the value of our region’s trees. Some key findings show:

  • Trees remove 37,000 tons of pollution from our region’s air every year.
  • 1 million tons of carbon are stored within our trees each year through carbon sequestration.
  • The region’s 249 million trees save $14 million in energy costs annually.

Young girl holding sapling at City MarketTo draw attention to the findings of the report and help educate the community on the value of trees, MARC has given away more than 300 bur oak saplings and educational materials at area farmers markets. Bur oak trees are native to our region and can grow more than 70 feet tall and live for up to 300 years, all while cleaning our air, cooling our homes, and providing food and shelter to wildlife.
Consider planting a tree in your yard today. For information about proper tree selection and planting, check out Missouri Department of Conservation’s web resources. Visit our website for more information about the MARC’s Regional Forestry Initiative and to read the iTree report.

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