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Benefits of Urban Trees to the Environment

Trees improve Seattle's environmental impact.

  • Reduced energy consumption - Trees around homes reduce heating needs in winter by providing a windbreak. During the summer, air-conditioning needs are reduced in tree-shaded homes.
  • Carbon sequestration – Trees store carbon as they grow. Seattle’s current urban forest is storing 52,400 tons of carbon at a value to society of $1,584,000.
  • Reduced stormwater runoff – Urban trees trap rain drops and slow stormwater runoff, reducing the risk of floods.
  • Air quality – Urban trees remove particulate matter and other pollutants from the air. The air cleaning value of Seattle’s urban forest is estimated at $4,894,000.
  • Heat island reduction – Street trees shade pavement, creating the most cost-effective way to reduce “heat islands” or zones of increased temperature in urban areas. Unshaded pavement can get as hot as 170 degrees during the peak of summer. Hot pavement warms the surrounding air, increasing temperatures on already hot days by as much as 5-8 degrees.


Value of Trees Fact Sheet (248 KB, pdf)

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