Planting a tree

The Chesapeake Bay Program offers three different pollution reduction credits related to trees in urban or developed areas. 

Have you ever tried to assign a value to the trees in your community? You may know that trees save energy, promote health and increase property values. But to persuade your elected officials to invest in trees, you may need evidence to back up those claims.

Luckily, resources such as Vibrant Cities Lab ( are making it easier to understand and communicate the value of trees in your community. The Vibrant Cities Lab website includes research and case studies supporting the economic, health, public safety and myriad other benefits of trees. 

And there’s more. The Chesapeake Bay Program offers three different pollution reduction credits for best management practices related to trees in urban or developed areas of the Bay watershed. Unfortunately, I’ve found that these credits are often overlooked by municipal engineers when developing pollution reduction plans to meet Bay cleanup goals.

Here are three urban tree BMPs that can earn credits. 

  • Urban tree planting: individual street and yard trees that add to canopy over turf or impervious surfaces 
  • Urban forest planting (also known as urban tree canopy expansion): contiguous clusters of trees where the ground below becomes forestlike 
  • Urban forest buffers: trees planted on strips of land at least 35 feet wide adjacent to rivers and streams

The costs and pollution reduction benefits of these credits can be quantified using the Chesapeake Assessment Scenario Tool (CAST).

You can learn more about these credits through the Chesapeake Tree Canopy Network, a collaboration of the Chesapeake Bay Program Forestry Workgroup, U.S. Forest Service and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Stormwater Network is another great resource. 

This information should help you make the case for funding tree work in your community. And, if you need additional help, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will be publishing a resource guide in early 2019 on strategies that local jurisdictions can use to fund and sustainably finance their urban tree canopy efforts.

I hope you’ll take the time to explore some of the resources mentioned here because if you aren’t investing in trees in your community, you’re missing out on one of the best BMPs available! 

Mary Gattis, of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, coordinates the activities of the Chesapeake Bay Local Government Advisory Committee.

The views expressed by columnists are not necessarily those of the Bay Journal.

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