According to the last census, 81 percent of Americans live in urban settings, so urban trees are the only forests most people encounter day to day.
And that’s if they are lucky enough to live or work in the forested part of a city.
“The 135 million acres of urban and community forests are perhaps the most valuable, hardest-working forests in the country,” says Paul Ries, co-chair of the Sustainable Urban and Community Forestry Coalition.
That’s a bold statement when you consider corporate forests that produce billions of board feet of timber every year or uniquely American treasures like Olympic or Yosemite national parks.
Is Ries biased? Maybe, but he also has hard numbers to back up his statement: 1.6 million jobs with an $82 billion payroll, over $5 billion in energy savings and almost $5 billion in carbon sequestered in trees.
An assessment of human health benefits puts the figure at $6.8 from urban forests in the U.S. There is no disputing that urban forests encounter the most people. [Read more…]