The benefits of tree conservation are numerous and varied. Trees are a major economic asset to a community, and building a positive community image which is a key factor in attracting residents, businesses, and visitors alike.
Higher Commercial Land Values and Occupancy Rates
Trees have a positive impact on the value of commercial property. Recent surveys indicate that nine out of 10 commercial real estate appraisers believe that trees boost the sales appeal of commercial properties and add significantly to their value. In addition, commercial areas with trees enjoy higher occupancy and rental/lease rates than identical properties that lack landscaping. Some studies suggest that attractive tree-lined commercial centers are more desirable than those without trees that have direct access to main roadways.
Increased Consumer Patronage and Spending
The appearance of a business can attract or repel customers. Well-landscaped businesses project an image of quality and service that entices customers. Surveys show that three out of four consumers prefer to shop in places that are graced by trees and other forms of landscaping. One study showed that patrons to shops with extensive landscaping and tree cover spent 11 percent more than they would in an identical shop without attractive landscaping and trees.
Greater Residential Property Values
Studies have consistently shown that trees have a major impact on the price and desirability of homes. Among identical homes, those with trees sell for an average of five percent more than homes without trees. Property values for unimproved lots can rise as much as 30 percent based on the amount and density of tree cover.
There is mounting evidence that stress and noise have an impact on our physical and psychological health. Trees and vegetation can affect our mood and help relieve stress. Research is showing that trees have a restorative quality that helps people feel and function better.
Dr. Robert Ulrich of Texas A&M University found that over a nine year period gall bladder patients who could see trees outside their hospital windows, instead of a blank wall, needed almost a full day less recovery time and required fewer pain killers. The study also found that people who are exposed to nature after periods of heavy stress exhibit fewer signs of physiological stress.
Studies on driving and road-related stress have shown that drivers exposed to nature are less likely to have a negative response to stressful situations than those that were not exposed to nature.
A survey conducted by Dr. Rachel Kaplan found that office workers who could see trees from their desks report higher satisfaction levels with their jobs and better overall health than those workers who could not see trees.
Trees are an efficient and cost-effective way for a community to improve its air quality and reduce pollution. A mature tree absorbs between 120-240 pounds per year of small particles and gases, like carbon-dioxide, which are released into the air by automobiles and industrial facilities. In addition, a single tree produces nearly three-quarters of the oxygen required for one person; and a canopy of trees in an urban environment can slash smog levels up to six percent. American Forests reports that just 25,000 acres of forest can offset the equivalent emissions of 10 billion automobile miles.
Trees help anchor soil and reduce storm water runoff, saving the high costs of drainage ditches, storm sewers, and other “engineered solutions” to storm water management. A street lined with 32-foot tall trees can reduce runoff by almost 327 gallons, allowing cities to install smaller and less expensive water management systems. Reducing runoff also decreases topsoil erosion and the amount of silt and other pollutants washed into streams, rivers, and lakes.
Lower Heating and Cooling Costs
Trees have demonstrated the ability to reduce heating and cooling costs and counteract the “heat island” effect in urban environments. Urban areas with little vegetation can experience temperatures of up to seven degrees higher than those with tree cover. This translates into significantly higher energy costs to cool buildings. Properly planted trees can cut heating and cooling costs by as much as 12 percent and reduce overall power demand.
Reduced Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is an often overlooked problem. Excessive or unwanted sound has negative physical and psychological effects. Noise can come from many sources, especially roads and highways. Trees can play an important role in deadening unwanted noise. Sound waves are absorbed by a tree’s leaves, branches, and twigs. Studies suggest that belts of trees 100 feet wide and 45 feet long can cut highway noise in half.