Did you know we have a detailed inventory of the location, planted date, and types of trees along City rights-of-way?
Seattle’s original street tree inventory was first undertaken between 1991-1993.
An accurate street tree inventory is a powerful decision-making tool. Since the urban forest is not static but changes from year to year, updates are essential. As part of the Move Seattle Levy, Urban Forestry began a wholesale update of the data. This year our team added 19,282 trees to the inventory.
Our comprehensive street tree inventory also provides valuable data for gauging the ecosystem services provided by our urban forest.
We analyze the data with a program that was developed by the US Forest Service, called iTree. We plug in the street tree data and the resulting analysis provides valuable information on the tree population while calculating some of the known yearly environmental benefits. The benefits we can quantify and put a dollar value to are energy savings, CO2 storage, improved air quality, storm-water collection, and increased aesthetics. This year, our calculated yearly value for these benefits increased from $18 million dollars per year to over $24 million dollars per year, simply because we have collected more and better data.
There are many benefits to urban street trees that we are not yet able to quantify and put a value to but are just as important. Those benefits include cooling heat islands, improving public health, calming traffic in residential areas, shading our sidewalks to make them more pedestrian-friendly, and more.
One very important benefit of urban trees is their ability to both help slow climate change and make humans more resilient to climate change, especially in urban settings.
Trees are the lungs of our planet. They breathe in and store carbon dioxide while emitting pure oxygen.
The combined annual carbon storage benefit from just the trees along our streets is over $105,000. Additionally, these trees are improving air quality to the tune of $193,000 per year. Street trees are also especially important in cooling pockets of high summer temperatures, or heat islands, which will become more of a problem as the climate continues to warm. Additional carbon storage and air quality value comes from other trees in parks and around homes.
You’re invited to take part in fighting climate change through stewardship of our urban forest. This upcoming Arbor Day, come plant a tree & celebrate.
The event will place October 12, from 9 AM-noon at Rainier Beach Community Center. This is especially exciting because Rainier Valley is home to Seattle’s largest and oldest Garry Oak’s, Washington’s only native Oak. Arbor Day activities include an ‘Ask an Arborist’ booth, a neighborhood Tree Walk, apple cider press, trash pickup, bird spotting, and more! All ages and abilities welcome. Check back frequently to stay on top of Seattle’s tree-centric activities designed to bring communities together while boosting climate resilience.