The Benefits of a Healthy Urban Tree Canopy for Baltimore City
By: Matt Heilman
April 24, 2013
The city of Baltimore would face both costs and benefits in achieving a healthy tree canopy. However, the benefits would far outweigh the costs that are associated in achieving this goal. The city of Baltimore would benefit greatly from a more significant investment in improving the tree canopy. Trees are one of the few elements of our infrastructure that increase in value over time. Trees remove air pollutants, alter microclimates, and reduce air temperature. Tree also absorb and filter water, cool our homes and business and increase property value. They are known to reduce stress, aggression and asthma rates and increase the livability and
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So it’s very ambitious to say the least.” TreeBaltimore, the city’s Urban Forest management plan, initiated in 2009 by Mayor Sheila Dixon is aimed at “preserving the urban tree canopy to create a greener more healthy city.” (TreeBaltimore). The TreeBaltimore program was designed to cooperate with government agencies, local institutions, non-profits, businesses, schools and most importantly the residents of Baltimore. An analysis of the urban tree canopy, using high resolution aerial imagery, determined Baltimore has a 27.4% tree canopy covering 14,130 of the 52,333 acres of Baltimore (TreeBaltimore). They also estimate the Baltimore metropolitan area has about 2.8 million trees. But one-fourth are distressed, dead of dying (U.S. Forest Service). The Forest Service’s urban tree canopy assessment revealed that a large amount of available planting space is on private property. To reach its 40 percent tree canopy goal, the city must plant approximately 750,000 trees — about 25,000 to 30,000 each year. Currently, about 7,500 are planted per year (Baltimore Tree Trust).
To put a value on the costs I will look at the how much money the city is designated towards improving the urban tree canopy, most notably TreeBaltimore. In addition to state funding, TreeBaltimore receives a $1.2 million annual grant from Constellation Energy (TreeBaltimore).
Assessing the current urban forest consists of several