According to the South Bend Parks and Recreation 2015 Annual Report, the City has an estimated 107,789 trees. If these trees provide just an annual benefit of $200 per tree, a conservative estimate based on some calculators, the overall value would be over $21.5 million each year. Because mature trees have a greater value than saplings, that value of each tree goes up as the longer it is alive and healthy.
Davey Tree Calculator: While some functional benefits of trees are well documented, others are difficult to quantify (e.g., human social and communal health). Trees’ specific geography, climate, and interactions with humans and infrastructure is highly variable and makes precise calculations that much more difficult. Given these complexities, the results presented here should be considered initial approximations—a general accounting of the benefits produced by urban street-side plantings.
While countless articles have been written on the subject, including those with a specifically municipal audience, integrating this economic understanding into our cities’ key performance metrics allows trees to be better implemented as a strategy across disciplines and locations. To do this, we need more than a passing economic analysis of our trees. After the inventory of South Bend’s urban canopy is completed by the Forestry Division, we can get a more nuanced understanding of the value of each tree in our community and the role trees will play in our municipal strategies moving forward.