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Urban Forest Values: Economic Benefits of Trees in Cities PDF (47 kb)
  Wolf, 1998 University of Washington, College of Forest Resources
 
 
Many important decisions in American cities are based on careful cost and benefit analysis of options. Yet the values of trees and plants in our urban centers are often overlooked. Urban forests are a significant and increasingly valuable asset of the urban environment. Scientists have measured the tremendous returns that trees provide for people in cities. A full understanding of this information is valuable if decision-makers wish to make cost effective policy and budget decisions. Investments in the planting and care of trees represent long term commitments of scarce dollars; improper plantings will increase costs and reduce benefits. Adequate resources for both planning and management
 
     
Tree Investment Brings Cities Many Happy Returns PDF (167 kb)
  Kathleen L. Wolf. Environmental Outlook, July 13, 2001.  
 
Research suggests urban forests produce surprising benefits for cities, from boosting retail sales to calming road rage.
 
     
How Cities use Parks for Economic Development PDF (391 kb)
  American Planning Association, City Parks Forum Briefing Papers
 
 
Parks provide intrinsic environmental, aesthetic, and recreation benefits to our cities. They are also a source of positive economic benefits. They enhance property values, increase municipal revenue, bring in home buyers and workers and attract retirees.
 
     
Fertile Ground PDF (179kb)
  Chris Taylor. SmartMoney.com. March 3, 2003.
 
 
By spending 5% of the value of your home on the installation of a quality low-maintenance landscape, you could boost the resale value by 15%, earning back 150% or more of your landscape investment.
 
     
Nature in the Retail Environment: Comparing Consumer and Business Response to Urban Forest Conditions PDF (1.4 mb)
  Kathleen L. Wolf. Landscape Journal, 1 January 2004, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 40-51(12)
 
 
This study evaluated both potential shoppers’ and business people’s preferences and perceptions of trees in inner-city business districts. Differences in attitudes regarding tree benefits and annoyances were found, with business people rating tree benefits significantly lower than shoppers. Research outcomes suggest best practices for urban forest planning and stewardship in neighborhood retail environments of large cities.
 
     
Retail and Urban Nature: Creating a Consumer Habitat PDF (266 kb)
  Kathleen L. Wolf. Population and Environmental Psychology Bulletin, vol 29, no.1, Winter 2003.
 
 
The impact of landscape on consumer behavior is explored looking at streetscape preferences, place perception and patronage behavior.
 
     
Understanding and Quantifying Urban Forest
Structure, Functions, and Value
PDF (194 kb)
  David J. Nowak, Daniel E. Crane, Jeffrey T. Walton, Daniel B. Twardus, and John F. Dwyer; USDA Forest Service
 
 
Trees in urban areas can have a significant impact on human health and the environment. Unfortunately, there is relatively little data about the structure, health, functions, and long-term changes in this important resource. In the United States, a number of efforts are underway to assess urban forest attributes at the local to national scales. In addition, tools are being developed to facilitate urban forest quantification by managers. These assessments and tools can be used in Canada and other counties to aid in planning and improving urban forest management.
 
     
Business District Streetscapes, Trees And Consumer Response PDF (608kb)
  Wolf, K. L. 2005. Journal of Forestry, 103, 8, 396-400
 
 
Trees provide environmental benefits in cities, but also contribute to the economy of communities. A program of scientific studies has found that shoppers respond positively to trees in downtown business districts. These findings have been consistent across large, small and mid-size cities of the United States. The most positive consumer response is associated with streets having a mature, well-managed urban forest where overarching tree canopy helps create a "sense of place." These materials describe the results across several research studies. Details of research done in different sized U.S. cities are found in sections below.
 
     
Trees and Business District Preferences: A Case Study of Athens, Georgia PDF (376 kb)
  Wolf, K. L. 2004. Journal of Arboriculture, 30, 6, 336-346
 
 
Prior studies suggest positive consumer response to the presence of trees in business districts, based on hypothetical shopping scenarios. A contingent behavior study was conducted in Athens, Georgia (about 100,000 population) to evaluate visitor reactions in a familiar retail setting that has an established urban forest canopy. Visitors of the Athens business district indicated strong preferences for the presence of trees, and specified how the presence of streetscape canopy influences their shopping activities.
 
     
Trees In the Small City Retail Business District: Comparing Resident and Visitor Perceptions PDF (604 kb)
  Wolf, K. L. 2005. Journal of Forestry, 103, 8, 390-395.
 
 
This study was a replicate of the large city study and tested consumer response to trees in communities that have 10-20,000 population. Measures of preference, perception and economic willingness-to-pay were used again. Research methods included interviews and mail-out surveys. Survey respondents prefer having large trees in retail streetscapes. Trees are also associated with reported increases in patronage behavior (such as travel distance and visit frequency), and willingness to pay more for products (up to 9%). Few differences in response were detected between small city residents and potential visitors who reside in nearby large cities.
 
     
Landscaping and House Values: An Empirical Investigation  PDF (183 kb)
  Francois Des Rosiers, Marius Theriault, Yan Kesten and Paul Villeneuve. Laval University, JRER, vol 23. 2002 139-161.  
 
This study investigates the effect of landscaping on house values, based on a detailed field survey of 760 single-family home sales transacted between 1993 and 2000 in the territory of the Quebec Urban Community (CUQ). Findings suggest that the positive price impact of a good tree cover in the visible surroundings is all the more enhanced in areas with a high proportion of retired persons. Finally, a high percentage of lawn cover as well as features such as flower arrangements, rock plants, the presence of a hedge, etc. all command a substantial market premium.
 
     
The Impact of Mature Trees on House Values and On Residential Location Choices in Quebec City  PDF (158 kb)
  Marius Theriault, Yan Kesten and Francois Des Rosiers. Centre de recherché en amenagement et developpement, Laval University.  
 
This study combines economic and behavioral modeling to enhance the understanding of landscaping in urban regions. Results indicate that impact of mature trees on house value is highly related to family composition and stated appreciation of wooded areas. Effect varies according to the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood, ranging from -9% to 15%.
 
     
Renting Value Instead of Cost: The Importance of Quality Landscaping  PDF (38 kb)
  Apartment Resources, vol 8, no. 1, January 1993
 
A survey of tenant amenity preferences shows that landscaping the 6th highest important amenity when shopping for an apartment, being ranked above a swimming pool, a fireplace or ceiling fans.
 
     
A Practical Approach to Assessing Structure, Function and Value of Street Tree Population in Small Communities PDF (770 kb)
  Maco, S.E. and E.G. McPherson. Journal of Arboriculture 2003.
 
This study demonstrates an approach to quantify the structure, benefits, and costs of street tree populations in resource-limited communities without tree inventories. Using the city of Davis, California, U.S., as a model, existing data on benefits and costs of municipal trees were applied to the results of a sample inventory of the city’s public and private street trees. Results indicate that Davis maintained nearly 24,000 public street trees that provided $1.2 million in net annual environmental and property value benefits, with a benefit-cost ratio of 3.8:1. The city can improve long-term stability of this resource by managing maintenance, new plantings, and stand rejuvenation on a city zone basis.
 
     
Benefit-Cost Analysis of Modesto's Municipal Urban Forest PDF (1.4 mb)
  McPherson, E.G., J.R. Simpson, P.J. Peper and Q. Xiao. Davis, CA: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest research station, center for urban forest research. 44. 2001.  
 
This study answers the question: Do the accrued benefits from Modesto’s urban forest justify an annual municipal budget that exceeds $2 million? Results indicate that the benefits residents obtain from Modesto’s 91,179 public trees exceeds management costs by a factor of nearly 2. In fiscal year 1997-1998, Modesto spent $2.6 million for urban forestry ($14.36/resident, $28.77/tree), and 74% of this amount was for mature tree care. Total annual benefits from Modesto’s urban forest were $4.95 million ($27.12/resident, $54.33/tree).
 
     
The Large Tree Argument: The Case for Large Trees vs. Small Trees PDF (379 kb)
  Geiger, J.R. Western Arbority. 30 (1): 14-15.2004.
 
In most areas of the country, communities can care for their largest trees for as little as $13 per year, per tree. And, each tree returns an average of $65 in energy savings, cleaner air, better managed storm water, extended life of streets, and higher property value.
 
     
Trees and Community Economic Development  
  These papers summarize the benefits that trees and forests provide for urban dwellers and the economic valuation of such benefits. Valuation approaches have been devised to assess the economics of environmental services provided by urban ecosystems. Another domain of value includes human services that are provided by urban nature, such as productivity, wellness and mental functioning. While scientists have confirmed such benefits, translating these benefits into economic terms is still underway. A potential benefit of immense economic impact is the role of trees in walkable communities, with consequences for weight reduction and improved health of millions of urban dwellers,  
 
Wolf, K. 2005. Civic Nature: Valuation: Assessments of Human Functioning and Well-Being in Cities. In: Forging Solutions: Applying Ecological Economics to Current Problems, Proceedings of the 3rd Biennial Conference of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics (July 20-23,2005). Tacoma, WA: Earth Economics.
(PDF 84 kb)
  Wolf, K. L. 2004. Economics and Public Value of Urban Forests. Urban Agriculture Magazine, Special Issue on Urban and Periurban Forestry, 13: 31-33.
(PDF 124 kb)