Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Trees and Money!

Many of Portland's older neighborhoods have some lovely, really old trees. Some seem to live on in perpetuity, while others reach that "old age" place, where, for safety, removal becomes a necessity.  It is a sad day when a big old tree has to come down.  Friends of Trees has long been helping Portlanders replant the urban canopy for so long now that some Friends of Trees trees have become part of the mature tree inventory.  Thank you Friends of Trees!

Forest Service researcher, Geoffrey Donovan, along with a few others, has been researching the value of trees in addition to the obvious; shade, air cleaners etc.  A few years ago, we saw results of his study showing trees adding to home values.  In that 2010 study, his research showed that mature street trees add an average of $7020 to a home's value.  Mr. Donovan is a busy guy.  In 2010 he also he published a study about the effect of urban trees on crime rates.  In that study he found that houses with street trees are less prone to crime, houses with large yard trees are less prone to crime and houses with smaller street trees are more prone to crime. Then in early 2011 Donovan published a paper on urban trees and birth outcomes;  showing that "canopy cover within 50 meters of a house reduced the risk of a baby being born under weight".

Donovan's most recent study, referenced in today's Oregonian finds just as trees increase real estate property values, they also increase residential rental values.  This recent study showed "trees planted on a rental house lot increased average asking rent by $5.62 per month, and trees planted along the street increased the monthly rent by $21". 

Wow.  With less crime, healthier babies, higher home sale values and higher rental values, trees seem like a pretty good idea.  There are some hard and no so hard costs to urban trees.  Planting a tree in your parkway, through Friends of Trees costs from $35 to $75, slightly higher if it is in your yard.  Friends of Trees does a great job helping you choose the right tree for the spot in which you are planting.  But maintaining a tree over the years can cost some money.  Some view leaf raking and disposal as a cost while other see it as a belovedd fall ritual.  And of course, way down the line, you may have to pay to remove the tree.  Way down the line.

If you are put off by the responsibility of owning trees, Friends of Trees has a variety of ways to support Portland area trees through gift trees and their Green Space Initiative.  And of course you can always donate, or help out on a tree planting crew.

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