Updated Tree Carbon Calculator

18 01 2010

I know as landscape architects it seems like we are always talking about trees, but there are just too many good reasons not to, especially in urban scenarios. On our Deaderick “green street” project we made the focus of one of our environmental education signs on the importance of urban trees. The Center for Urban Forest Research, run by the US Forest Service provided a wealth of facts and resources for us to include on the Deaderick Street sign.

One of the Signs from Deaderick Street

Recently, the Forest Service has updated their Tree Carbon Calculator so that it works nationally instead of just for California. You can find the updated version in their Climate Change Resource Center. The calculator runs off an excel platform and allows you to input data for a single tree. Based on your region, tree species, distance for the building, and a number of other factors it will give a basic idea of how much annual energy, emissions and stored carbon you can expect. I used it to see the effects for a couple of trees I have outside my house. Even a small 6” tree has the potential to sequester over 65lbs of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year and that big 30” oak tree in my back yard, over 1000lbs per year, not to mention all the energy reductions too.

This is another useful tool to help prove the value trees. It is projected that over the next 50 years climate change will actually cause the southeast region to become warmer and drier, which would reduce the amount of forest growth. While the best option for managing this in the future is to keep forest as forest (per a publication from the US Forest Service titled ‘Forest and Carbon Storage‘), it can’t hurt by incorporating as much urban tree growth into new developments as possible, every little bit makes a difference.

-Sara Putney



%d bloggers like this: