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Study shows worth of urban trees

Published: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 2:35 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 10:24 p.m. CDT
Caption
((Brenda Schory - bschory@shawmedia.com))
Andi Dierich of the Morton Arboretum Community Trees program, talks about the importance of trees at Peck Farm Park Saturday. Dierich talked about a study of trees in a seven-county area, including Kane.

GENEVA – Urban trees soothe the senses and calm people down, they save money by reducing energy costs and increase income to retailers as trees increase how much customers spend, according to various studies.

Andrea Dierich, of the Morton Arboretum's Community Tree program, gave a short talk on the benefits of trees Saturday at Peck Farm Park in Geneva, celebrating the opening of the Geneva Park District's "Trees of Illinois" exhibit

Dierich said a tree census done in 2010 found more than 157 million trees in a seven-county area of Kane, DuPage, Cook, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

"They collected all this data, they brought it back in house,"  Dierich said. "The census found that the trees in the seven-county census reduce energy costs by $44 million."

The study found that urban trees remove about 677,000 tons of carbon per year – that is, they absorb 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide – and they remove about 18,080 tons of pollution from the air each year.

Trees were also found to impact home values by 6 percent in lower income areas, they create a sound barrier and their presence in urban areas had a calming effect on residents and visitors, she said.

"People want to walk in areas where there's trees lined along the streets," Dierich said.

Trees also factor into car crashes, she said, as 1.9 percent of all car crashes involve trees.

"And of that, when look at injuries, it was extremely elevated," she said, because trees are so sturdy, even when vehicles hit them.

The study also found that trees affect commercial districts, in that shoppers will linger longer and prefer to shop in areas that have trees.

"It does increase the amount of money people are willing to spend in shopping areas by 7 percent to 10 percent,"  Dierich said. "So businesses can really thrive."

More information about the study is available on the Arboretum website at www.mortonarb.org.

Trish Burns, manager of Peck Farm Park, said the day's program was to teach more about trees.

"And to get people outside to explore in their backyards the trees they have and the significance those trees play in their daily lives," Burns said.

The "Trees of Illinois" exhibit is at Peck Farm Park's Orientation Barn, 4038 Kaneville Road and will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Friday, Feb. 21.

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