Trees in communities provide many benefits beyond the inherent beauty they lend to streets and properties, however, caring for them is not a priority and often becomes an afterthought. Planning regular community tree maintenance with a tree inventory plan can move tree care from reactive to proactive and can lessen or eliminate the probability of unforeseen costs, loss of trees, and the potential for trees to become a safety hazard.
Environmental Benefits of Trees in a Community
- Reduce stormwater run-off. Stormwater run-off is created when rain falls onto impermeable surfaces such as roads, driveways, and roofs and causes pooling and flooding problems. Trees control the release of water into the ground by storing a large amount in their leaves and roots. Trees also filter ground water that later becomes our drinking water.
- Provide habitat for wildlife. Trees provide shelter and food for many birds and small animals.
- Carbon Sequestration. Carbon in the atmosphere contributes to global warming. Trees use photosynthesis to convert carbon into carbohydrates that they use for food and growth. One tree can sequester as much as one ton of carbon in a 40-year span.
Economic Benefits of Trees in a Community
- Trees increase property value. Well-maintained trees are attractive and add interest to a property and can increase property value anywhere from 5-20%.
- Reduce Cooling and Heating Costs. Strategically placed trees can provide block wind in the winter months and shade in the summer and can be just as effective as insulation and energy efficient windows and doors.
Trees Need Regular Maintenance
Trees should be maintained regularly to prevent unnecessary disease and loss and to reduce safety hazards. Issues that can affect the health of a tree are:
- Insects and diseases
- Improper planting
- Poor site choice
- Mechanical injury from humans and animals
- Site disturbances from utility maintenance and construction
- Natural aging
Routine maintenance can reduce the likelihood of emergencies that can be costly and potentially dangerous.
Shift Tree Care from Reactive to Proactive with a Tree Inventory
Caring for the trees in a community can seem like a daunting task, but a tree inventory streamlines the management process. A tree inventory is made with a geographic information system or GIS software. Each tree is plotted and data is collected on the trees:
- site characteristics
- maintenance needs
With the data collected, recommendations can be made for maintenance needs. A tree inventory can take the guess work out of tree maintenance by prioritizing the needs of each tree. This allows for advanced scheduling of long-term management programs, budgeting, and documentation of the maintenance performed on each tree.