Washington, DC (September 29, 2010)- The USDA Forest Service recently released a new report entitled “Sustaining America’s Urban Trees and Forests.” The report provides an overview of the current status and benefits of America’s urban forests, compares differences in urban forest canopy cover among regions, and presents challenges facing urban forests and their management.
As urban areas expand across the country, the importance of the benefits that urban forests provide, as well as the challenges to their conservation and maintenance, will increase. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the current status and benefits of America’s urban forests, compare differences in urban forest canopy cover among regions, and discuss challenges facing urban forests and their implications for urban forest management.
Some of the report’s key findings:
* In 2000, 3.1 percent of the conterminous United States was classified as urban, yet this small percentage of land supports 79 percent of the population, or more than 220 million people.
* Urban land is expanding at a considerable rate and is projected to increase substantially over the next half-century. The Northeast and Southeast are the most urbanized regions of the country and four states in the Northeast are projected to be more than half urban land by 2050: Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
* Based on photo-interpretation, tree cover in urban areas of the conterminous United States is estimated at 35.1 percent (20.9 million ac). As urban areas expand, the amount of urban forest will increase and urban forests will become increasingly critical to sustaining environmental quality and human well-being in urban areas. Careful planning and management will be crucial to maintain and enhance urban forest benefits.
* Nationally, urban forests in the United States are estimated to contain about 3.8 billion trees, with an estimated structural asset value of $2.4 trillion. This dollar value reflects only a portion of the total worth of an urban forest.
* Urban trees provide innumerable annual ecosystem services that affect both the local physical environment (such as air and water quality) and the social environment (such as individual and community well-being) that influence urban quality of life.
Sustaining America’s Urban Trees and Forests: A Forests on the Edge Report