Oregon Department of Forestry: Trees benefit business districts

State foresters often have their hands full with managing public woodlands miles away from the nearest home or business. But it’s becoming more common to hear them tout the numerous benefits of urban forestry, whether they work directly with cities or not.

Downtown-EugeneCynthia Orlando, a certified arborist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, makes the case for urban forestry in general and the pluses to commercial areas in particular in an op-ed in the Statesman Journal.

The research points to substantial long-term gains in commercial areas with ample street trees. U.S. Forest Service studies have found $2.70 in benefits for every $1 invested in city trees, and Orlando also points to University of Washington research showing increased foot-traffic in tree-lined commercial areas.

There’s also the qualitative element. What kind of attributes are people looking for in a business district? Orlando writes:

Healthy trees send positive messages about the appeal of a district, the quality of products there and what customer service a shopper can expect — they’re an important component of any program to attract shoppers and visitors

Portland received well-deserved attention for its growing tree canopy, but many of Oregon’s smaller cities have exciting programs as well. Oregon State University in Corvalis is the first and only Tree Campus USA in the state. Salem and Eugene (pictured above) are both drawing new housing and business to their forested downtown.

Find out more about urban and community forestry in Oregon here.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Attractions

Arbor Week in Oregon ends Saturday

Add Oregon to the list of states that celebrate Arbor Day prior to the national holiday on the last Friday in April. The Beaver State is also among just a handful that celebrate the tree planting holiday for an entire week.

Oregon has a special combination of both traditional forests and well-maintained urban forests, a point noted by Paul Ries, head of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

“Trees are important to the quality of life here in Oregon, where we have some of the most productive forestland in the world and some of the most livable cities around,” he said.

The Douglasfir, Oregon’s state tree, blankets Tillamook State Forest, which was established as a result of large reforestation efforts following wildfires in the 1930s and 1940s. Oregon foresters are currently planting 60,000 trees to diversify the tree canopy and reduce the risk of the large Douglasfir population falling victim to disease.

The City of Portland is home to a 5.5 acre, traditional Japanese garden that draws 200,000 visitors every year. The garden is pictured below, with the photo courtesy of Jonathan Ley and the Oregonian.

The Department of Forestry has highlighted several events, including tree planting events in Eugene and Portland, a poster contest for 4th and 5th graders in La Grande and Metolius and a waterfront weeding in Hood River.

The State of Oregon is currently home to 54 Tree City USA communities, accounting for nearly two million people. The largest Tree City USA in Oregon is Portland, population 550,560; the smallest is Echo, population 710.