Urban Areas Need More Trees
Urban areas have a severe tree deficit that is costing tax payers billions of dollars each year in air and water benefits, according to a study released by American Forests.
The conservation group says that this deficit has increased by 21 percent during the last 10 years.
“This is a huge nationwide tree deficit that is getting worse,” said Gary Moll, American Forests’ vice president of the Urban Forest Center. “Trees work to clean air and water naturally, and they do it for free.
American Forests’ study analyzed 448 urban areas defined by the U.S. Census – tree cover in these areas stands at an average 23 percent.
Using satellite images from a sample of 40 urban areas American Forests calculated that urban areas have 21 percent less tree canopy today than they did 10 years earlier.
According to the report, this equates to more than 1.7 billion trees needed to increase tree canopy to the recommended 10 percent in the 448 U.S. urban areas.
The report notes that actions to reverse this deficit can – and should – be taken at the local level. One way to do reverse the tree loss trend, the report recommends, is by incorporating tree cover data into their infrastructure database.
Another recommendation is for cities to develop public policies that increase tree cover and promote green infrastructure.
In addition, the report suggests that analysis recommends that the community should set tree cover goals and institutionalize a system to maintain this goal. Citywide, American Forests recommends a 35 percent tree cover and 45 percent in special ecological areas.
“Communities can harness these assets by maintaining existing trees and planting new ones,” Moll said. “American Forests recommends communities increase their tree cover by a minimum of 10 percent.”
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.