A recent survey of San Antonio’s urban forest showed 137.8 million trees in and around the city work to reduce air pollution, temperatures and stormwater runoff, while storing carbon, improving human health and beautifying the Alamo City.  

San Antonio's trees
(Texas A&M Forest Service photo)

An Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis, FIA, survey revealed information about San Antonio’s urban forest such as tree species, size range and health. This information is used to calculate ecosystem services provided by the city’s trees and the values of those services. 

Each year, San Antonio’s urban forest works to remove more than 6,500 tons of air pollution, saving $63 million in health costs. It also reduces stormwater runoff by over 380 million cubic feet and saves residents $22 million — $13.89/person — in energy costs each year. 

“That’s a lot of work,” said Gretchen Riley, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program leader. “Beyond beautification, trees are effective and efficient solutions to some of the challenges people and cities face.” 

How the survey helps

San Antonio leadership can now better target efforts and priorities in their forest management plans to address climate and environmental equity challenges throughout the city. 

“The survey tells us that the city’s trees are currently storing 3.5 million tons of carbon — the equivalent to greenhouse gasses emitted by 2.5 million cars driven for one year — and that live oaks are the largest contributor to storing this carbon,” said Riley. “Having this information can aid in making forest management decisions into the future.”

The city’s Urban FIA data is collected on a repeated basis and made publicly available through the Texas A&M Forest Service My City’s Trees web application. My City’s Trees will show up-to-date data over time, including changes such as growth when that data becomes available. 

“Active urban forest management is an ongoing and ever-evolving process,” said Riley. “That’s the fantastic thing about Urban FIA and My City’s Trees — it is not just a snapshot in time. Communities will be able to utilize this information to make decisions about the future and to look back and see how those management decisions actually affected the urban forest and the people living and working in the community.”

San Antonio joins the Texas cities of Austin and Houston —  as well as San Diego and Portland — in completing an Urban FIA survey and being highlighted in My City’s Trees. Other cities across Texas and the nation are on deck to conduct or complete a survey. Once completed, they also will be included in the web app.

Bringing Urban FIA and My City’s Trees to San Antonio has been a partnership between the City of San Antonio, Texas A&M Forest Service and both the Southern and Northern Research Stations of the U.S. Forest Service. 

Visit http://mycitystrees.com to explore the urban forest and find information on how trees are working for the city of San Antonio. 

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