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Ecosystem Benefits

TreePlotter™ INVENTORY can provide estimates of the ecological benefit that trees provide, broken up into several different categories. This is done through the National Tree Benefit calculator, an online tool based on iTree Streets research. It is recommended that trees have at least the following information in order to generate the most meaningful results. That being said, these numbers are rough approximations and are best used to generate public interest and conversation as opposed to scientific studies. The fields that should be populated are:

  1. Species
  2. DBH (Diameter at Breast Height, in inches)
  3. Land Use

To view Ecosystem Benefits in INVENTORY, go to Hub at the top left of the window. Click Stats and then Ecosystem Benefits to see each different estimate as well as an overall monetary value in USD. Per-tree benefits can also be seen by clicking on a tree point and then clicking Eco Benefits. Benefits may take up to 48 hours to populate, especially after a large data upload.

Ecosystem benefits are broken up into five different categories:

Stormwater: Through promoting healthy soil and intercepting rainfall, trees help to reduce the amount of stormwater created from a rainstorm. Results are shown both in gallons of stormwater and an estimated monetary benefit, in USD.

Property Value: Studies have shown that trees increase the value of the property they’re on. This model uses the tree’s leaf surface area as well as the number of trees on the property to estimate, in USD, the increase to property value that they provide. These values can expect to increase over time as long as the trees are healthy and growing in leaf    surface area over time.

Energy Savings: This section shows energy saved due to the presence of trees based on three different benefits that they provide (listed below). The benefits are estimated in kilowatt-hours (kWh, electricity saved during the summer), therms (reduced natural gas use in the winter), and in USD. Shading in the summer helps to reduce air conditioning costs.
Trees transpire water, adding to the moisture content in the air and reducing                              air temperatures. Tree canopies serve as wind blocks, reducing drafts and                                    the loss of heat through surfaces like glass windows.

Air Quality: Trees help to absorb harmful pollutants, intercept particulate matter that can cause respiratory issues, and release oxygen into the air. These benefits are recorded as estimates of pollutants removed (in pounds) and USD. The following pollutants are included:
Ozone (O3) , Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) , Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) , Particulate Matter

Carbon Dioxide / Carbon Storage: A healthy tree canopy helps to reduce atmospheric carbon through carbon sequestration (pulling carbon dioxide from the air and storing in their roots, trunks, stems and leaves). Energy savings also contribute indirectly to a decrease in carbon dioxide by lessening the need for air conditioning and heating. These values are shown in USD, carbon stored, carbon sequestered and carbon avoided (all in lbs). Definitions can be found below:
Carbon Stored: All carbon dioxide stored in the urban forest over the life of the trees as a result of sequestration (in pounds). This measurement is not the same as annual carbon sequestered.
Carbon Sequestered: The amount of carbon annually removed from the atmosphere and stored in the canopy’s biomass (in pounds).
Carbon Avoided: Annual reductions in atmospheric CO2 due to sequestration by trees and reduced emissions from power plants due to reduced energy use (in pounds).

Updated on June 11, 2019

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