By Jenna Lee Thomas
Augusta, GA (February 17, 2011)- Trees…you grow them and reap their benefits. Fruit and lumber are sold for profit, of course, but there’s also non-tangible values. Augusta Tree Board chairman, Roy Simkins, says that’s especially true for trees in cities.
Roy Simkins, chairman, Augusta Tree Board: “They help with so much…the environment both physically, chemically, and aesthetically is improved with urban forests.” Trees provide carbon and climate regulation, water filtration and supply, pollination, and animal habitat.
Simkins: “The urban forest is extremely important to the well-being of the citizens of this state.” Jenna Lee Thomas: “The number of trees has increased 25 percent in Georgia in the last 40 years…and growing trees means growing money.” Forestry provides more than 118,000 Georgia jobs and brings in an estimated $64.2 billion in combined economic and environmental benefits. Eric Kuehler, U.S. Forest Service: “Urban forestry trees are the hardest working trees in the United States. We don’t provide them with a lot of growing space, yet we expect a lot out of them.”
Trees are also becoming tech-savvy… U.S. Forest Service representative Eric Kuehler says municipalities can calculate their urban tree benefits for free on iTreeTools.org. Kuehler: “Total benefits for this Willow Oak, according to the software, is about $151 annually. That includes energy benefits, storm water benefits, carbon, and aesthetic value. And that’s just one tree. Now, you blow that up to tens of thousands of trees in a city…now that’s a chunk of change.” Yes, a chunk of change growing from trees…
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