Northern Research Station News Releases

Urban Forests Count in Missouri

Three Cities Partner with USDA Forest Service to Count Trees, and Tree Benefits

Thom Bergstrom at Urban Certification April 11, 2019 St. Ferdinand Park, Florissant, MO just outside of St. Louis. USDA Forest Service photo by Sjana Schanning. Madison, WI, June 17, 2021 - An inventory of urban forests in three Missouri cities – St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield – represents the first inventory of the cities’ trees by the USDA Forest Service and offers insight into the extent and health of urban forests and their benefits to people.

The inventories, which were conducted by Forest Service Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) crews and contractors in partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation, are part of the USDA Forest Service’s expansion of forest inventory to include urban forests.  40 cities in the United States are currently participating in urban forest inventories, and the program aims to have partnerships in place that will allow inventory of more than 100 cities and allow for Urban FIA to build a strategic national inventory of urban forests.

The “My City’s Trees” web-based application allows users to explore data associated with these three cities using various spatial themes requested by the Missouri Department of Conservation.  This application was developed through a partnership between the Forest Service and Texas A&M Forest Service. “Customer service and partnership are core values of the Forest Inventory & Analysis Program and form the foundation on which the entire program is built. These values are woven into every aspect of the Urban FIA program starting from data collection right on through data analysis, reporting, and distribution,” said Mark Majewsky, team leader for the Urban FIA program.

“Urban trees and forests are important to the citizens of Missouri,” said Russell Hinnah, Community Forestry Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “They provide numerous benefits including aesthetics, energy savings, storm water filtration, and health benefits. These sampling efforts will provide valuable information about Missouri’s urban forests including status and trends, values, health, their ecosystems services, and risks to pests and disease.”

Urban FIA is a continuous long-term monitoring program and this data release represents the first complete Urban FIA data set for these cities. This dataset will serve as a baseline from which future measurements will be compared. Urban FIA will continue to revisit measurement plots in St. Louis and Kansas City to track how these urban forests change over time.  Inventories report on tree count, wood volume, carbon storage, compensatory value, leaf biomass, energy savings, avoided runoff, pollution removal, and avoided adverse human health effects, among other forest attributes.

Key metrics in the three cities include:

  • The Greater Kansas City area has an estimated 35 million trees, 71 percent of which are on private land. Hackberry is the most common species when considering trees 5 inches and larger in diameter; roughleaf dogwood is the most abundant sapling-sized tree (1-4.9 inches in diameter.) The metro area’s trees store 3 million tons of carbon, a major contributor to climate change, or about 3 tons for each person in the city. Urban trees remove more than 3 thousand tons of air pollution per year, resulting in avoided adverse human health effects estimated at $12.3 million in the Greater Kansas City area.
  • The Greater St. Louis area has 48 million trees, with 68 percent on private land and 32 percent on public land. Eastern redcedar is the most numerous tree, both in the 5-inch diameter and sapling categories. In the St. Louis metropolitan area, trees store over 4 million tons of carbon, about 2.3 tons for each person in the city, and remove more than 3 thousand tons of air pollution per year, resulting in $46 million in avoided adverse human health effects.
  • Springfield has 3.6 million trees, with 72 percent on private land and 28 percent on public land. The most abundant tree species with a diameter of 5 inches and larger was eastern redcedar, and ailanthus, an invasive species, was the most common sapling-sized tree. The city’s forests store 300 thousand tons of carbon, or about 2 tons per resident, and annual removal of pollution by trees in Springfield was just under 300 tons, with avoided adverse human health effects from pollution removal estimated at $2 million.

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The mission of the Northern Research Station is to improve people's lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

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The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation's surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).


Last modified: June 17, 2021