Principal Howard Birnbaum Contributes to Report on the Health Benefits of Urban Tree Planting
September 28, 2017
The trees in urban areas provide a wide range of health and economic benefits. However, most US cities are experiencing a decline in urban forest cover, due to a number of factors including a persistent lack of funding. Analysis Group recently collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land on a recent report titled “Funding Trees for Health: An Analysis of Finance and Policy Actions to Enable Tree Planting for Public Health.” This report explores how cities can use innovative finance and policy tools to enable tree planting for improved public health.
An Analysis Group team led by Principal Howard Birnbaum used a standard industry model to estimate avoidable health care resource use and work loss costs associated with reducing pollution at the city level for 27 major cities. Even based on a medium ecological impact scenario, the analysis found that a significant fraction of additional tree planting and maintenance costs could be offset in the form of reduced health care costs. The analysis serves as a lower bound of potentially avoidable costs in these 27 cities and estimates avoidable annual health care costs from urban tree planting could total $13.2 million ($2015), and avoidable annual work loss costs could amount to an additional $11.9 million.
While each city may have a different strategy to combat urban forestry's decline, municipalities that are looking for innovative new sources of funding for tree planting may find an unlikely ally in health care companies and employers seeking innovative solutions for lowering health-related costs.