Downtown street trees are actually great investment

Image by Flickr user Will McNelis

It was recently made very clear just how much the City of Charleston appreciates its street trees when two homeowners at Congress and Hagood streets were fined $3,200 after cutting down an oak tree that was blocking their view of the football stadium over at The Citadel.

You may at first be wondering what the big deal is--who cares about someone cutting down a tree? But the statistics speak for themselves:

  • According to the U.S. Forest Service, for every dollar Charleston spends maintaining its thousands of street trees, it receives approximately $1.37 of benefits.
  • Trees reduce summer energy costs by cooling sidewalks and buildings.
  • Trees soak up that rainwater, which can sometimes turn into serious flooding downtown.

A 2006 analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Urban Forest Research delved into exactly how much our street trees give back. The center's director at the time, Dr. Greg McPherson, said, "Our research in Charleston has shown that the municipal street trees provide $717,000 in annual benefits, about $47 per tree, and only cost the city $530,000 per year to maintain. That is a huge return on your investment."

And these are just some of the facts that show that our street trees are, indeed, giving us a killer return on investment. Get all the details over at The Post and Courier's in-depth report here.

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