Report shows big urban forestry impacts across Northeast, Midwest

Aerial view of the Boston skyline in 2017

Aerial view of the Boston skyline in 2017. Wikimedia Commons license.

According to a recent study led by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and funded through a USDA Forest Service Eastern Region grant, urban forestry operations across the Northeast and Midwest are making big impacts in their communities each year.

Urban tree canopy cover in these states averages about 28%. That’s a lot of trees to manage and maintain. These operations collectively contribute over $34.7 billion to local economies.

Nearly 80% of the region’s population lives in urban population centers.

That’s the takeaway from the Urban Forestry Economic Analysis of the Northeast and Midwest. The 2022 study touted that urban forestry contributes $17.6 billion in direct value to industry.

This groundbreaking report determined the economic impacts of urban forestry across the USDA Forest Service Eastern Region’s 20 states in the Northeast and Midwest, along with Washington, D.C.

The urban forestry industry of the Northeast and Midwest employs more than 357,200 people and has an annual payroll of about $16.05 billion, the report also noted. And every job in urban forestry generates another 0.38 jobs in other industries. Additionally, urban forestry businesses and employees in the region paid about $2.1 billion in federal taxes and over $988 million in state and local taxes in 2018. 

The Eastern Region provided $309,200 in federal funding for the project in fiscal year 2018.

The Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance also collaborated on this project. Regional and state reports and fact sheets about this assessment are available on the organization’s website.

The trees themselves provide ample benefits to their urban communities. Urban forests in the region were valued at $3.06 billion in ecosystem services, including air pollution removal, stormwater reduction and carbon sequestration.