Tennessee Urban Forest Yields $640 Million in Benefits

Nashville, TN (March 26, 2012)- A study by the U.S. Forestry Service finds that trees in Tennessee’s urban areas provide the state with environmental benefits valued at nearly $640 million a year.

According to the study’s findings, reported by WPLN-FM, shade trees save the state about $66 million a year. That’s mostly savings in heating and cooling expenses as the trees protect rooftops from the summer sun and block cold winds in winter. The state’s urban trees also store and remove from the air more than $570 million worth of pollutants each year.

Tennessee is only the second state in the country the Forest Service has surveyed. The study is meant to set a baseline for measuring the future health of the state’s urban forest.

Tim Phelps of the state Forestry Division said that knowing the economic value of trees helps make the case for planting and protecting them. “Once people realize the impact that a strategically placed tree can have on their energy savings, it affects their pocketbook,” he said. “And when you affect your pocket book, that’s a resounding influence.”

One troubling finding was that the most common species in urban areas is the invasive Chinese privet, which grows prolifically and shades out native species.
Phelps said Chinese privet started as an ornamental plant used in landscaping, but it now accounts for one in every 10 trees in Tennessee’s urban forests. Currently, researchers at the University of Tennessee are testing herbicides to help eradicate the plant.

Related Resources:

Knoxville News Sentinel- Tennessee Urban Forest Yields $640 Million in Benefits
WPLN- Urban Forest Study Values Shade, Quantifies Privet Problem
Tennessee Urban Forestry Council