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Houston’s Urban Forest, 2015

Informally Refereed
Authors: David J. Nowak, Allison R. Bodine, Robert E. Hoehn, Christopher B. Edgar, Gretchen Riley, Dudley R. Hartel, Kerry J. Dooley, Sharon M. Stanton, Mark A. Hatfield, Thomas J. Brandeis, Tonya W. Lister
Year: 2017
Type: Resource Bulletin
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Resour. Bull. SRS–211. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station.


An analysis of the urban forest in Houston, Texas, reveals that this area has an estimated 33.3 million live trees with tree canopy that covers 18.4 percent of the city. Roughly 19.2 million of the city’s trees are located on private lands. The most common tree species are yaupon, Chinese tallowtree, Chinese privet, Japanese privet, and sugarberry. Trees in Houston currently store about 2.0 million tons of carbon (7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide [CO2]); valued at $272 million. In addition, these trees remove about 126,000 tons of carbon per year (462,000 tons CO2 per year) ($16.8 million per year) and about 2,400 tons of air pollution per year ($20.4 million per year). Houston’s urban forest is also estimated to provide 126 million cubic feet of net wood volume and to reduce annual residential energy costs by $54.6 million per year. Reduction in runoff provided by the trees in Houston is estimated at 173 million cubic feet per year with an associated value of $7.8 million per year. The compensatory value of the trees is estimated at $16.3 billion. The information presented in this report can be used to improve and augment support for urban forest management programs and to inform policy and planning to improve environmental quality and human health in Houston. The analysis also provides a basis for monitoring changes in the urban forest over time.


Air pollution removal, carbon sequestration, ecosystem services, tree value, urban forestry inventory.


Nowak, David J.; Bodine, Allison R.; Hoehn, Robert E., III; Edgar, Christopher B.; Riley,Gretchen; Hartel, Dudley R.; Dooley, Kerry J.; Stanton, Sharon M.; Hatfield, Mark A.; Brandeis, Thomas J.; Lister, Tonya W. 2017. Houston s Urban Forest, 2015. Resour. Bull. SRS 211. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 91 p.