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In New York City, the Value of Urban Trees Adds Up

Photo of New York City skyline.New York City skyline.Snapshot : New York City’s urban forest produces cleaner air, lower energy costs, reduced ultraviolet radiation, and less storm water in the city’s sewer system. USDA Forest Service scientists and partners analyzed a sample of the city’s 7 million trees and found that they provide services with an annual value of more than $100 million.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Nowak, David J. Sonti, Nancy Falxa
Hoehn, RobertHallett, Richard
Johnson, Michelle 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1630

Summary

A team of scientists at the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station and their partners used i-Tree, a suite of computer software tools developed by the Forest Service and partners, to analyze and quantify the value of New York City’s urban forest. The researchers found that the city’s overall tree total is 7.0 million trees (35.9 trees per acre), with the highest density of trees in Staten Island. Overall tree cover is 21 percent, with Staten Island having the highest tree cover (30 percent), followed by the Bronx (23 percent), Manhattan (20 percent), Queens (18 percent), and Brooklyn (16 percent). Tree density and location matter because trees act as a vital part of urban infrastructure. Trees in New York City currently store about 1.2 million tons of carbon valued at $153 million. Trees remove about 51,000 tons of carbon per year (186,000 tons carbon dioxide per year) valued at $6.8 million per year, and about 1,100 tons of air pollution per year valued at $78 million annually. New York City’s urban forest is estimated to reduce annual residential energy costs by $17.1 million per year and reduce runoff by 69 million cubic feet per year, a value of $4.6 million annually. Organizations can use this information to advance urban forest policies, planning, and management to improve environmental quality and human health in New York City. The analyses also provide a basis for monitoring changes in the urban forest over time.