Arbor Day 2010: Plant a tree for growing economic benefits

A treelined suburban street on Arbor Day.

Arbor Day 2010 is a national holiday, and the occasion to plant a tree generates numerous economic benefits. Photo by

Arbor Day is a U.S. national holiday that comes and goes quietly the last Friday in April. Nobody gets Arbor Day 2010 off of work. Everybody is focused on the weekend. Most people take trees for granted. The Arbor Day Foundation is dedicated to changing that attitude — at least for a day, by encouraging people to spend a little money now on Arbor Day trees. The Arbor Day Foundation is active year round, but Arbor Day 2010 is its annual opportunity to sell the environmental and economic value of Arbor Day trees.

The business value of Arbor Day trees

Arbor Day 2010 draws attention to the health of urban forests and the benefits of a leafy canopy to a city’s quality of life. The Arbor Day Foundation knows that associating a dollar value with them is the best way to get Americans to appreciate Arbor Day trees. Its National Tree Benefit Calculator monetizes the investment in planting a tree. Based on geographic area, the calculator uses information about species, size and purpose. Return on investment is presented for  stormwater, property value, air quality and carbon dioxide (co2). Using the tree benefit calculator, a silver maple 12 inches in diameter located in the Northwest generates $57 dollars in benefits a year to a commercial business.

Plant a tree and save the planet

Arbor Day 2010 is an appropriate time to focus on trees and co2. Plant a tree for one of the cheapest, most effective ways to draw excess co2, a primary greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, reports Plant a tree and when it matures it will absorb 48 pounds of co2 a year and produce enough oxygen to support two humans during that year. An acre of trees absorbs enough co2 in a year to cancel out 26,000 miles of driving. Over a 50-year lifetime, the U.S. Forest Service estimates a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.

Plant a tree gift

If every American family gave a plant a tree gift, the amount of CO2 would be reduced by 1 billion pounds annually — about 5 percent of the amount that humans pump into the atmosphere each year. It doesn’t have to be an Arbor Day tree. On a birthday, it’s easy to give a plant a tree gift at

Plant a tree in memory

Plant a tree in memory of someone to add to their meaningful legacy. Consider that 12-inch sugar maple above, growing along a roadway. In one growing season, it  removes not only co2, but 60mg cadmium, 140 mg chromium, 820 mg nickel and 5200 mg lead from the environment. To plant a tree in memory of a loved one, go to

Arbor Day history

Arbor Day history began in 1872 with a respected agriculturalist named J. Sterling Morton. He goes down in Arbor Day history as the founder of the holiday in Nebraska City, Nebraska, a state more commonly associated with cornfields than trees. On the first day in Arbor Day history, about 1 million trees were planted in the U.S. Sterling later became Secretary of Agriculture for President Grover Cleveland. Sterling is credited for being instrumental in setting up national forest reservations.

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