Trees in the built environment provide many benefits to the community – almost all of which can be measured in dollars and cents. So it makes sense to incorporate tree planting as part of your stormwater management plan. Or, alternately, to make stormwater management part of your urban forestry master plan.

Air Quality

Urban forests reduce a variety of health issues, such as respiratory diseases and skin cancer, and promote an active lifestyle, which can reduce obesity. LA’s Million Tree program removed roughly 9,900 tons of air pollutants during its first 30 years – avoiding costs of $68 million.

Public Health

Since ancient times, observers have praised the health benefits of “being in nature.” Only recently have scientists estimated the extent to which exposure to nature improves health outcomes – but their studies focus on comparisons between neighborhoods with more, or fewer, trees. Up until now, no one had the opportunity to conduct a “before and after study” — that is, what happened to community health when existing trees disappeared.

Between 1990 and 2007, 100 million ash trees in 15 states died from infestation by the emerald ash borer. As a result, researchers suggest some additional 6,113 people died from respiratory problems, and another 15,080 from cardiovascular disease.

Living in a greener setting improves life expectancy by 12 percent.

Energy Conservation

Exposure to nature has shown various impacts on students, from improved academic performance and focus to reduced ADHD symptoms. For example, children in classrooms with views of trees show improved attention and self-discipline, leading to better academic performance.

Urban Heat Island

Air temperatures in cities, particularly after sunset, can be as much as 22°F (12°C) warmer than the air in nearby, less developed neighborhoods. Planting more trees and vegetation can close this gap – saving money and lives.

Vibrant Business Districts

While trees are working hard for air and water quality, they’re also increasing property values, improving business performance, and creating jobs.

In recent studies, shoppers claim they will spend 9% to 12% more for goods and services, travel greater distances, and spend more time in central business districts having high quality tree canopy.

Cohesive Neighborhoods

Residential vegetation has been linked to a greater sense of safety, fewer incivilities, and less aggressive and violent behavior, especially in inner-city neighborhoods. The reasons are many.


Trees and shrubs often comprise the most “natural” vegetation for use in stormwater management. Unlike grasses, which require periodic mowing, established trees and shrubs offer substantial savings in maintenance costs – sometimes in excess of $1,500 per acre, per year.
Pennsylvania Stormwater Design Manual, 2008, Chapter 5