Living on the Earth, June 23, 2000: Trees are Valuable
Anchor intro.: You don't have to travel very far anywhere to see examples
of deforestation. Although nearly everyone knows that trees are valuable,
local commentator Bill Duesing is amazed by the financial benefits of
trees, even on a small lot.
There's a two-plus acre lot for sale in Bridgeport, CT on Old Town Road
near the junction of heavily-traveled Routes 8 and 25. A real estate
broker suggested that the owners "clean up" the wooded lot so that
prospective buyers could "see the land." The owners clear cut the parcel,
removing over 60 trees, many of them more than two feet in diameter. This
land may sell sooner, or it may not, but Bridgeport and the surrounding
neighborhood lost many environmental services provided by those trees.
Trees moderate climate. They provide cooling in summer and warmth in
winter, while they sequester carbon that would otherwise contribute to the
greenhouse effect. Trees slow down the flow of rain into the soil and
filter it with their roots, helping to build water reserves and avoid
damaging runoff. Trees clean the air and protect and build topsoil while
they also provide flood control services, wildlife habitat and physical
The non-profit organization American Forests (www.americanforests.org) has
estimated that the value of just four of the environmental services which
each living tree provides is $273 per year. One tree is worth $50 for air
pollution control services, $75 for erosion and storm water control, $73
for summer cooling and $75 for wildlife shelter. Since the values for
other beneficial services weren't calculated and the figures haven't been
adjusted for half a decade's inflation, these numbers are conservative.
These services are especially valuable in urban areas where air pollution
is greater, where acres of asphalt send stormwater straight into sewers as
demand for water increases, and where the "heat island effect" raises
Using American Forests' figures, those 60 trees on two acres in Bridgeport
provided more than $16,000 worth of free environmental services each year,
while the lot itself produced about $3,000 in annual taxes.
On a larger scale, a proposed electric power plant in Oxford provides
another dramatic example of the value of trees. Builders of this large,
hotly-contested gas-fired plant want to cut down 4,000 trees! These trees
currently provide services worth more than $1.1 million per year, every
year. If the trees are removed, these services will be lost just when,
ironically, the need for them increases as a result of the power plant's
production of tons of air pollutants and lots of waste heat while it gulps
groundwater for cooling.
It is time we took the value of trees far more seriously in our development
plans. The more trees we cut down, the more valuable the remaining ones
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
(C)2000, Bill Duesing, solar Farm Education, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491
Bill and Suzanne Duesing operate the Old Solar Farm (raising NOFA/CT
certified organic vegetables) and Solar Farm Education (working on urban
agriculture projects in southern Connecticut and producing "Living on the
Earth" radio programs). Their collection of essays Living on the Earth:
Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future is available from Bill
Duesing, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491 for $10 postpaid or from any
Now in its tenth year, "Living on the Earth" airs at 6:53 Friday mornings
on WSHU, 91.1 FM Public Radio, serving Connecticut and Long Island. Essays
from 1995 to the present, and an audio version of this week's essay are
available at www.wshu.org/duesing.
Distribution of these essays is encouraged. Reprinting rights available by
If you are interested in receiving these weekly essays do nothing more.
If you would like not to receive these mailings, please let me know.
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jul 03 2000 - 12:00:41 EDT