In this topic you will learn
What are the benefits of trees in my community?
What can I do to enhance trees in my community?
School time spent among trees and nature can improve academic outcomes in reading, writing, math, science and social studies, enhancing creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.
A home that is located near natural forests is worth, on average, $10,000 more in property premiums. A neighborhood with good tree cover, where homes are perceived as scenic and private, increases home values between 6% and 9%. Annually, trees in the Chesapeake Bay watershed provide at least $24 billion in the form of carbon removal, flood control, wildlife habitat and recreation.
Public Health and Safety
Studies show that time spent in nature and forests—from taking a walk to forest bathing—increases immunity and well-being. Community trees also bring people together outdoors, increasing exercise, reducing stress and lowering societal healthcare costs. Encouraging a community to spend time outdoors can also increase neighborhood vigilance, discouraging criminal activity.
Infrastructure Maintenance and Finance
Trees reduce runoff that would otherwise flood communities, placing stress on storm drainage systems and discharging pollutants into local waterways.
Case Studies You'll Find Inside
The Value of Undisturbed Trees
Developers in Frederick County, Maryland, saved over $360,000 by leaving trees and wetlands undisturbed in a residential subdivision. These savings were primarily earned in the form of stormwater benefits and reduced clearing costs.
The Legacy of Redlining in Urban Communities
A study from the Science Museum of Virginia found higher temperatures in historically redlined neighborhoods, when compared to higher income, whiter neighborhoods. Redlining is the historical practice of refusing home loans or insurance to neighborhoods based on a racially motivated perception of investment safety. The historically redlined neighborhoods—predominantly lower income and communities of color—were up to 7 degrees warmer, partly because of lower tree cover.
Trees Reduce Stormwater Runoff
Trees reduce runoff that would otherwise flood communities, placing stress on storm drainage systems and discharging pollutants into local waterways. Prince George’s County’s existing trees reduce runoff by 4.3 billion gallons each year, saving the County $12.8 billion in annual stormwater treatment costs.
Community Benefits of Trees
A 2013 study estimated the value of annual carbon sequestration by trees in urban areas to be $2 billion, with the total value of carbon storage in city trees valued at over $50 billion in 2005. According to i-Tree, community trees in Blades, Delaware, provide $54,232 in benefits each year, in the form of carbon dioxide reduction, stormwater runoff reduction and air quality improvements.
Membership Dues Fund Tree Canopy Goal
Columbia is working to meet its 50% tree canopy goal by improving local ordinances and policies and developing outreach and education strategies. Columbia’s Shade Tree Commission has planted and maintained approximately 850 community trees over the past 20 years. The commission includes residents and businesses that pay membership dues to fund the planting and care of trees.
Increasing Tree Canopy at Public Schools
West Virginia analyzed tree canopy at 78 public schools across the Potomac River Basin. Canopy coverage ranges from 0% to 78%, with the average tree canopy cover of school property at 15%. This tree canopy analysis was also used to show how much canopy could be added if half of each schoolyard’s grassy area was planted with trees.
Forest Buffers Support Stormwater Management Requirements
Frederick County’s Creek ReLeaf Program has reforested more than 200 acres of land. The program was started in 2017 to help meet stormwater management requirements. The program offers property owners free native plants and five years of forest maintenance, as well as a permanent reforestation easement at 75% of fair market value. The program is funded through multiple sources, including the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.
Incentivizing Conservation Measures
In the 1970s, Albemarle County’s Department of Planning and Community Development designated Rural Areas, setting growth restrictions to encourage conservation. The County has since implemented a use-value tax assessment program to reduce property taxes for landowners engaged in agriculture, forestry and other open-space uses. In addition, its Acquisition of Conservation Easements program allows landowners to sell conservation easements to public agencies, with low-income landowners qualifying for higher payments.
Here's How You Can Help
Learn More About This Topic
Connect with resources, stories and best practices to understand, expand and maintain your tree canopy.
Access a step-by-step guide to enhancing tree cover in your community.
Determine whether your city is delivering equitable tree canopy cover to all residents.
Access practical strategies for funding and financing municipal urban tree canopy programs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Use this worksheet to review your municipal codes and ordinances, so future development projects conserve valuable woodlands and encourage new plantings.