Tennessee’s urban forests, currently valued at about $80 billion, also provide almost $650 million in benefits such as carbon storage, pollution removal, and energy reduction. These values come from Urban Forests of Tennessee, 2009, a newly released report published by the Southern Research Station (SRS).
“This represents the first statewide inventory and forest health monitoring effort to quantify Tennessee’s urban forest resources,” said Steven Scott, Tennessee State Forester and head of the Tennessee Division of Forestry (TDF), which collected the data for the report. “This report, for the first time, puts a face on the urban forest resource and what it means to the state in terms of economic and environmental value.”
The Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) and Urban and Community Forestry Programs partnered with TDF and researchers from the Forest Service Northern Research Station (NRS) and SRS on the project. David Nowak, NRS project leader and research forester led the pilot study, which sampled trees in all the state’s urban area and analyzed their value using i-Tree Eco, a model developed by the Forest Service.
Data from the pilot study showed 284 million trees in urban areas of Tennessee, with canopies covering 33.7 percent of 1.6 million acres of urban area. In addition, urban forests in Tennessee provide an estimated $370 million per year in carbon storage, $204 million per year in pollution removal, and $66 million per year in reductions in energy use.
The report includes an extensive assessment of urban forest health, providing information about present damage and potential risks. In addition to nonnative invasive plants, Tennessee urban forests face risks from exotic pests that include the recently discovered thousand cankers disease, which impacts black walnut; hemlock woolly adelgid, which kills eastern and Carolina hemlocks; the Asian longhorned beetle, which kills a wide range of hardwood species; and the emerald ash borer, which decimates ash trees. This last insect was recently documented in East Tennessee.
In addition to Nowak, authors include Anne Cumming and Daniel Twardus from Forest Service State and Private Forestry, NRS forester Robert Hoehn, and SRS research foresters Chris Oswalt and Tom Brandeis.
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