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Not only do trees and forests create habitat for wildlife, and create a place for a much-needed respite from a busy urban life, their many benefits can be assessed in dollar values.

| Air Quality | Energy Costs | Property Values | Health & Quality of Life | Flooding |


Trees Clean Air!
Forests improve air quality and reduce pollution by filtering out particulate matter and absorbing carbon dioxide, which contributes to smog (ozone) formation.

The 2005 Houston Regional Forest Report, published by the Texas Forest Service, found that:

  • Houston's 663 million trees (as of 2000) removed 60,575 tons of air pollutants annually.
  • The economic equivalent of this pollution-removal was valued at $295.7 million/year.
  • These trees stored $721 million worth of carbon, and sequester an additional 1.6 million tons per year, valued at an additional $29 million/year. (Carbon sequestration is a term that means the carbon taken out of the atmosphere by trees, and it plays a role at stemming global warming).
  • Houston lost 486 square miles of canopy between 1992 and 2000, mostly to urban development, and the region continues to lose forest daily.
Our forests and our bayous, creeks, and rivers are the legacy of Houston - the Bayou City - but they won't stay forever without proactive leaders working to protect and preserve them for future generations, like the Spring Creek Greenway project aims to do.

Read The Value of Houston's Trees by Wendee Holtcamp, from the Feb. 2006 Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. "A new report reveals that the Bayou City has lost a lot of forest to concrete, but the remaining trees provide measurable benefits."

Trees Cool Houston and Lower Your Electricity Costs

  • Trees and other vegetation actually absorb heat, and hence cool air temperatures, whereas black asphalt and dark-colored roofs absorb and re-radiate the sun's rays making it hotter.
  • As a result, urban temperatures are 6 to 8 degrees higher than the surrounding rural regions because of all the asphalt, concrete, and rooftops. This is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect.
  • By lowering air temperatures, trees and forests reduce the rate at which ozone (smog) forms, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Trees Increase Real Estate Values

  • One study showed that a single, mature tree in a front yard increases property value 0.88% or up to $1,000 per $115,000 valuation (Anderson and Cordell 1988).
  • Other studies show that buyers will pay 3-15% more for residential homes with more tree cover.
  • This is also true of communities and subdivisions as a whole; think of River Oaks and master planned communities such as The Woodlands and Kingwood. No matter what economic level, heavily treed neighborhoods benefit the community as a whole, as well as individual citizens!
  • Residential property values for neighborhoods near well-maintained, forested parks are assessed at 10-20% higher than those not near parks. John Crompton wrote about this in his 2000 book The Proximate Principle: The Impact of Parks, Open Space, and Water Features on Residential Property Values and the Property Tax Base.
  • In Austin, properties next to the Barton Creek Greenbelt (another greenway project) had 6-12% higher values (Nicholls 2002).
  • Also see the Trust for Public Land report " The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space: How Land Conservation Helps Communities Grow Smart and Protect the Bottom Line." You can download the report as a PDF by following the link.

Forests Improve Quality of Life and Health

Studies have shown that forests and trees:

  • Decrease reported crime
  • Decrease aggressive behavior
  • Reduce ADHD symptoms
  • Help people cope with life's challenges, and
  • Aid in illness recovery

Trees Buffer Against Flooding

  • Forests buffer against flooding by absorbing rainfall in their canopies and in the soil.
  • A recent American Forests study indicated that over 50% of water from a rainfall is retained in a forest's canopy, in the treetops. Other rain is absorbed into the soil, or is detained on top of the soil.
  • On the contrary, every time concrete is put in, the flooding risk increases. Wherever you have concrete and rooftops, the rain runs off into the stormdrains and into river and bayous. The intensity of flooding after heavy rainfalls will absolutely get worse as what is now forest turns into concrete.

Future generations of children will remember the times they spent hiking, paddling, fishing, wildlife-watching or exploring along this beautiful creek and the forests along its edges, as long as everyone works together to preserve the land rather than cut or develop the forests.

We need to act now to protect forests if we are to leave a legacy for our children, and to protect our own health and quality of life.

The Spring Creek Greenway is one giant step toward that future.


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