The value of individual and groups of trees is understood in general terms by most people. But much research effort has been committed to developing precise methods of measuring those values in real terms.
We can group this research into three areas:
- Environmental benefits. Using information such as the dollar value of stored carbon, the reduction in cooling and/or heating, and the documented increase in property value from mature trees, it is possible to compute the actual dollar value of trees’ environmental benefits. The software to do this is available without cost from the i-Tree website.
- Social and economic benefits. Although less easily expressed in actual dollar amounts, these benefits are equally valuable to a community. They include such tree effects as the reduction of crime, the increase in community spirit, the spread of a feeling of well-being, and the improved spending rates for businesses. Details about this research are easily found on the Human Dimensions of Urban Trees website
- Insurance value. It is possible to obtain a professional estimate of one or more urban trees for insurance purposes. A standard method for the use of trained certified arborists and consultants was authored by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. The standard is known as “Guide for Plant Appraisal,” currently in the 9th ed. It can be used for the valuation of plant casualties, insurance purposes, real estate transactions, plant condemnation actions, and tree inventories. Anyone interested in this service should find an ISA Certified Arborist or a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists.