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Austin’s Trees Estimated to Be Worth $16 Billion, Study Says

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In a new report on urban forests, the U.S. Forest Service and the Texas A&M Forest Service deemed Austin’s trees cost around $16 billion.

The study is part of a report on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service to determine “the value of urban forests around the country, to help policymakers make decisions about their trees,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The researchers studied “200 randomly selected plots, each about a sixth of an acre, to estimate the makeup of Austin’s forest.” These findings showed that trees cover about 30 percent of the city’s land and about 90 percent of those trees are native to Texas.

The $16 billion estimate is essentially the compensatory value for the “33.8 million trees found in Austin,” which averages out to $480 per tree. Austin’s renowned tree ordinances have worked to protect the urban forests around town.

The central point of the ordinances is to essentially protect trees with a diameter of 19 inches or more, or a proclaimed heritage trees unless those who want to cut the tree down can “prove that the tree is diseased or a safety risk or that keeping it would prevent a reasonable use of land.”

The city was selected in the Forest Service’s study because, as Christopher Edgar with the Texas A&M Forest Service told the Austin American-Statesman, “there’s a general impression people care about trees in Austin.”

To that end, we can only say, of course we care about trees! It’s hotter than Hades here in the summertime, so we need natural shade.