How Trees Benefit Our Community

Tall tree looking up from below to see green leaves

​We're proud of our trees. They are a beautiful addition to our city and have a number of environmental benefits. Not only do our trees absorb carbon dioxide and reduce soil erosion, but their leaves and needles act as air filters by capturing dust and other pollution. Shade from our trees help cool streets and sidewalks, reduce glare from buildings, and absorb some noise.

Urban Heat Island

Trees also combat the urban heat island effect. Urban heat island refers to the fact that specific areas in cities tend to get much warmer than their surrounding rural landscapes or well-shaded areas of a city, particularly during the summer. This temperature difference occurs when unshaded road, parking lots, and buildings gain heat during the day and radiate that heat into the surrounding air. As a result, highly developed and low tree canopy urban areas can experience day and night time temperatures warmer than surrounding areas.

Tree benefits by the numbers:

Salem’s tree canopy provides $80 million a year in environmental benefit by enhancing air quality, filtering stormwater, and capturing and storing carbon to help combat climate change.

AIR FILTERS Salem’s trees remove 548,000 pounds of pollutants, a service valued at $4.2 million annually.

CARBON CAPTURE & STORAGE Salem’s trees store approximately 423 thousand tons of carbon, valued at $72.2 million. Salem’s tree canopy absorbs and stores approximately 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide, valued at $1.5 million annually.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL Trees shade streams, keeping the water cool for aquatic animals. Trees help cool cities and combat the heat island effect. Shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F (11–25°C) cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials. (1. Akbari, H., D. Kurn, et al. 1997. Peak power and cooling energy savings of shade trees. Energy and Buildings 25:139–148. )

WATER FILTERS Stormwater runoff is filtered by plant leaves, roots and the soil, reducing the impact of water pollution. Roots also stabilize soil, and reduce the amount of pollutant load and sediment into streams.

STORMWATER QUANTITY /FLOOD CONTROL On average, an acre of tree canopy absorbs 40 thousand gallons of water and helps to reduce runoff, which is valued at roughly $350 per acre/per year. Extrapolated citywide, Salem’s tree canopy provides $3.2 million annually in benefits.

WILDLIFE HABITAT Both alive and dead, trees provide benefits. Wildlife use trees as habitat, for food, shelter, nesting, resting, and mating.

INCREASED INCOME Property values are 7 percent to 25 percent higher for houses surrounded by trees and consumers spend up to 13 percent more at shops near green landscapes.(

HEALERS/WELLNESS( Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue. 

Did you know...?

  • In 2018, there were 9,104 acres of tree canopy in Salem? That is about 24% of City land area.
  • Trees produce oxygen and reduce pollution?  The existing canopy removes 274 tons of air pollution annually, valued at $4.2 million!
  • On average, each acre of tree canopy in Salem absorbs 40 thousand gallons of water, providing 3.2 million annually in stormwater benefits.

Learn more

Learn more about Salem's Tree Canopy and how you can help plant trees.

View the entire Tree brochure in English and Spanish.

Come plant with us

The City continues to contract with Friends of Trees annually to help grow our tree canopy and our community. The planting season runs from November to April each year. Join us at one of our events. In 2020, Volunteers, staff, and contractors planted 655 trees.

Tell me more about Friends of Trees​