The Urban Forest Inventory in Tennessee

Yellow-poplar is a dominant species in Tennessee urban forest areas. Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood,org

Trees in cities can contribute significantly to human health and environmental quality. Previously, there’s been little known about the urban forest resource in the State of Tennessee and what it contributes locally and regionally in terms of ecology, economy, and social well-being.

In an effort to better understand the urban forest resource in the State of Tennessee and its value, the Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) and Community Forestry Programs, in partnership with Forest Service research and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry, initiated a pilot study to sample trees within all urban areas across the State.

Urban forest structure, functions, health, and values in Tennessee were analyzed using the i-Tree Eco (formerly known as Urban Forest Effects (UFORE) model. Results reveal urban areas in Tennessee have an estimated 284 million trees in urban areas with canopies that cover 33.7 percent of the area. Most trees are found in forested areas (56 percent) with the most dominant species being yellow-poplar, chestnut oak, and whiteoak (ratings based on basal area). Hackberry, yellow-poplar, and flowering dogwood were the top three in terms of leaf area.

Tennessee’s urban forests currently store about 16.9 million tons of carbon valued at about $350 million. In addition, these trees remove about 890,000 of carbon per year ($18.4 million per year) and about 27,100 tons of pollution per year ($203.9 million per year). Trees in urban Tennessee are estimated to reduce annual residential energy costs by $66 million per year. The structural, or compensatory, value is estimated at $79 billion.

Information in this report can be used to advance the understanding and management of urban forests to improve human health and environmental quality in Tennessee.

Reprinted from the SRS FIA Inventory Update (December 2011).

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