Austin is known for its love of trees and tree protection policies, and those efforts were recently acknowledged in a report, Austin’s Urban Forest, released in February by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. The Report, which is the first of its kind, is the product of the Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (UFIA). UFIA is an urban forest monitoring program and produces estimates of the quantity, health, composition, and benefits of urban trees and forests. The Report is a summary and analysis of the field work and data collection conducted by the Texas A&M Forest Service. Field data will be collected on an annual basis to monitor and analyze Austin’s urban forest, including trends, threats, and opportunities. Additional components of the project that are anticipated to be released this year include a survey of urban land owners and an online application which will allow easy manipulation of the data collected.
The Report acknowledged that trees in Austin:
· Contribute significantly to the environment, the economy, and the residents’ well-being
· Include an estimated 33.8 million trees and 30.8% tree canopy cover
· Store approximately 1.9 million tons of carbon (valued at $242 million)
· Reduce annual residential energy costs by an estimated $18.9 million per year
· Reduce storm water runoff by an estimated 65 million cubic feet per year
· Are valued (compensatory value) at an estimated $16.0 billion
Austin was selected for the study by the USDA and Texas A&M Forest Service due to its strong leadership and advocacy of tree preservation. The Report represents a significant planning and management tool for the City of Austin, and directly relates to topics identified in the City’s “Austin’s Urban Forest Plan: A Master Plan for Public Property.” The findings will be used for planning purposes, long term monitoring and analysis of Austin’s urban forest.
The USDA’s Austin’s Urban Forest Report can be viewed here.
To learn more about the City’s Urban Forest Plan, visit http://austintexas.gov/page/urban-forest-plan
For further information, contact Emily King, Acting Urban Forester, at 512-974-9548 or by email at Emily.King@austintexas.gov