The implicit value of tree cover in the U.S.: A meta-analysis of hedonic property value studies
Trees in residential neighborhoods and communities provide benefits for homeowners that are capitalized into residential property values. In this paper, we collected data from hedonic property value studies and merged these data with ancillary spatial data describing forest and socio-economic characteristics surrounding each study area to conduct a meta-analysis of the impact of tree canopy cover on the value of residential properties. The meta-analysis suggests that property-level tree cover of about 30% and county-level tree cover of about 38% maximize the implicit price of tree cover in property values. Currently, tree cover in the original study areas was about 14%, on average, around or near study properties. The empirical results, therefore suggest under investment of tree cover on private property from the perspective of individual property owners and from a societal perspective. The findings also have implications for community forest programs regarding planting trees and protection of mature trees to address potential changes in tree abundance, species diversity and stand age due to development and climate change.