How do you measure the worth of a tree? Is it the amount of money it cost to purchase the tree? The amount of money you could gain from harvesting it?
Trees have social value; cities don’t plant trees in the medians because they have extra trees lying around and housing developers don’t line neighbor streets with shady trees because they have extra money to spend, according to the National Christmas Tree.
Trees have environmental value! Of course you say, that’s what forests are made of! Trees provide place for animals to live. Their decaying leaves and branched create rich soil. But there is more to a tree’s environmental value than that. Trees are climate controllers; areas without trees are 5 to 9 degrees warmer than those with trees. Trees are air scrubbers; trees can reduce the particulates in the air by 9 to 13% and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen during photosynthesis thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Trees reduce noise; they are a natural sound barrier and much more pleasant to look at than cement walls. Trees are crucial to soil and water quality, trees prevent erosion, prevent flooding, slow the rate of pollutants entering waterways, store carbon, and filter water.
According to Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service national averages show that a single tree reduces costs of air conditioning, erosion control, pollution control, and wildlife habitat.
But what might be the hardest value to place on trees is their psychological benefit. It is hard for us to put a dollar value on how much better it makes us feel to have a window that looks out on a patch of grass with a tree than a parking lot. Can we place a dollar amount on how the falling of leaves in autumn reminds us that colder weather is approaching? What would a park be without the trees? I think it can be concluded that most people enjoy having trees around.
So come visit a state park and determine your own value of trees!