Trees Grow Healthy Communities

Spokane's Urban Forest Belongs to Everyone

Spokane's urban forest provides many economic, health and environmental benefits for city residents and businesses.

  • Trees produce oxygen and filter airborne particulates - improving Spokane's air quality.
  • Trees improve water quality and reduce storm water runoff – reducing pollutants and mitigation costs.
  • Trees provide shade, contribute to summer cooling, and moderate the effects of wind – saving energy costs.
  • Trees make our city more livable; individual trees and a healthy urban forest play important roles in our quality of life and the sustainability of Spokane's environment. Trees impart a distinctive character and beauty, enrich the aesthetic experience of the community, soften and screen urban development, provide habitat for wildlife, and add to our history, civic pride and public life.
  • Trees are beautiful. Bare branches silhouetted against a winter sunset, lilac blossoms in spring, blazing red and brilliant gold autumn leaves – who has not stopped to admire these? Trees trace the changing of the seasons, reawakening our faith in growth and renewal.

The following are figures for 76,533 street trees inventoried and analyzed for value and benefits in the City of Spokane. The information is an especially useful tool to evaluate the condition of our tree population and provide factual foundation for policy and management decisions. These 76,533 street trees provided the following benefits in 2012:

  • $714,302 is saved annually in reduced heating and cooling costs.
  • $75,778 is saved annually in reduction of atmospheric CO2.
  • $113,296 is saved annually in air quality improvements.
  • $290,602 is saved annually in stormwater mitigation by rain interception and storage.
  • Trees beautify Spokane, attracting more tourists, and businesses, lowering crime rates, increasing marketability and property values at a value of $2,850,251 annually.
  • You can calculate the benefits of trees on your property or the right-of-way by using the National Tree Benefit Calculator.

Trees give us many benefits that are equally important but are not easily converted to dollar savings. A few examples are listed below.

  • Research has shown pavement shaded by trees will last 10 years longer than exposed pavement. This results in less maintenance, saving material and labor costs.
  • People are more likely to shop in business districts with treescaping and are likely to spend more (Nature Within).
  • Patients with even just a view of greenery: parks, gardens, and/or trees heal faster (Green Plants for Green Buildings).
  • Trees provide a wealth of wildlife habitat and are especially important in urban areas as connections to open space and wild areas.
  • Vehicles on freeways and highways can produce noise that exceeds 100 decibels. Dense plantings of trees and shrubs can reduce this noise by 6-15 decibels.

Our goal at Spokane Urban Forestry is to continue to enhance our urban forest, protecting its health and diversity, ensuring it provides these benefits for future generations.

For more information on the many benefits of a healthy urban forest to a community, visit Nature Within, a website created by Dr. Kathleen L. Wolf, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening.