What is a Tree Worth?
by Michael Kuhns, Extension Forestry Specialist
Most people think of trees as having values that can't be expressed in dollars. They think of cool shade on a hot day, beautiful flowers in the spring, great fall color, or other, less tangible benefits. Some of the benefits of trees can be expressed in dollars, however.
According to "Growing Greener Cities", a book published in 1992 by the American Forestry Association, trees have significant monetary benefits. They have found that a single tree provides $73 worth of air conditioning, $75 worth of erosion control, $75 worth of wildlife shelter, and $50 worth of air pollution reduction. Compounding this total of $273 for fifty years at 5% interest results in a tree value of $57,151.
Another way to look at the monetary value of trees is to use appraised tree values. Trees can be worth many thousands of dollars if they are good species in good condition in a prime location, or may be worth nothing if they are in poor shape or are poorly located. A rough rule of thumb is that the value of your entire landscape (including trees, but also turf, shrubs, benches, etc.) can not be more than about 20% of the value of the entire property.
If you need to have a tree appraised, look in the yellow pages under tree services and hire an ISA Certified Arborist with training in tree appraisal techniques.