Urban Trees and Forests of the Chicago Region

By Nowak, David J.; Hoehn, Robert E. III; Bodine, Allison R.; Crane, Daniel E.; Dwyer, John F.; Bonnewell, Veta; Watson, Gary

Newtown Square, PA (September 17, 2013) – An analysis of trees in the Chicago region of Illinois reveals that this area has about 157,142,000 trees with tree and shrub canopy that covers 21.0 percent of the region. The most common tree species are European buckthorn, green ash, boxelder, black cherry, and American elm. Trees in the Chicago region currently store about 16.9 million tons of carbon (61.9 million tons CO2) valued at $349 million.

In addition, these trees remove about 677,000 tons of carbon per year (2.5 million tons CO2/year) ($14.0 million/year) and about 18,080 tons of air pollution per year ($137 million/year). Chicago’s regional forest is estimated to reduce annual residential energy costs by $44.0 million/year. The compensatory value of the trees is estimated at $51.2 billion.

Various invasive species, insects and diseases, and lack of adequate regeneration of certain species currently threaten to change the extent and composition of this forest. Information on the structure and functions of the regional forest can be used to inform forest management programs and to integrate forests into plans to improve environmental quality in the Chicago region. These findings can be used to improve and augment support for urban forest management programs and to integrate urban forests within plans to improve environmental quality in the Chicago region.

Source: Urban Trees and Forests of the Chicago Region (USFS)