The benefits of trees are obvious:
Trees provide shade, cool the environment, store and sequester carbon emissions, capture and mitigate polluting aerosols and other damaging particulates, facilitate biodiversity, aid soil conservation, and promote human health both physically and mentally.
But how do these facts stand in the face of a continuous loss of natural assets in urban environments today? How can we support the green infrastructure of our cities if the benefits of trees are undervalued and to a large degree, intangible?
This is where i-Tree makes its way into the scenery, an app developed by the USDA Forest Service that tabulates the financial value of trees, translating its holistic assets into clear monetary terms that everybody can understand–and process objectively.
There has been a need to quantify our urban forest resources–and once quantified, they become easier to assess, and ultimately, to manage. Imagine street trees converted into dollars and cents: their powers of filtration and healing on the urban scale configured into a numeric amount. Imagine a tree that is worth more than your house.
How does this alter your perception of the green-leafed fixtures that surround us?