The Large Tree Argument:
The case for large stature trees vs. small stature trees.

“Large trees pay us back. We now know that, dollar for dollar, large-stature trees deliver big savings and other benefits we can’t ignore. Small-stature trees… deliver far fewer benefits.” This is a good all-around piece, although it is dated in the figures cited from 2003, we know canopy trees are delivering an even higher dollar return than understood in this piece.

U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research

Canopy trees benefit us by:
  1. Canopy trees in the terrace create a sense of place (3) and make people more likely (22.72% more likely!) to stop and converse with one another on the sidewalk (4).
  2. Removal of air pollutants (2).
  3. A single mature canopy tree can store 100 gallons or more of water (8) which is then evaporated out of their leaves, relieving the storm sewer of the water entirely (9).
  4. The City of Madison is or has undergone projects from numerous angles to reduce the flow of water during storm events (7).
  5. A single mature canopy tree can reduce an individual home’s electric cooling use by as much as 20% (12) (13).
  6. Madison Gas and Electric, having recently undergone a community planning effort, cited as a cost-saving priority the avoidance of the need to further increase peak generation load capacity (10) and whereas MG&E has identified the use of air conditioning as the single primary driver of peak load (11).
  7. MG&E can experience a significant increase in electric reliability from undergrounding 15kV distribution wires due to avoidance of storm damage from wind and ice-loading (17).
  8. Urban areas are projected to continue to undergo an increase in yearly high temperatures due to rising levels of carbon dioxide (14) and a single mature canopy trees can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year (15) and thereby reduce the urban heat island effect and prevent an increase in peak energy demand (16).
  9. Significant reduction in road-noise (1).
  10. The presence of trees has been shown to have such health benefits as reducing stress and increasing overall measures of wellbeing and life satisfaction (21) and as evidenced by communities already subject to the radical loss of trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer, the presence of trees protect against cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness (22).
  11. A single mature canopy street tree increases a home’s value 3%, or $7,593 of a $293,000 home (18) as well as adds value to homes within 100 feet of that single tree (18).
  12. The presence specifically of mature canopy street trees has been shown to reduce crime. (19) (20).
  13. An asphalt road surface undergoes a less severe degradation from UV rays and heat from the sun when shielded by canopy trees (6), resulting in cost savings from less frequent repair and resurfacing needs.

Read more about canopy tree benefits: