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The Price of a Tree

Before I even get started, let me say that I like trees. I've planted trees. Just after I moved into this house (nearly 6 years ago!), I put a nice Green Ash in the front yard. I joined the National Arbor Day Foundation a year or two ago….

Before I even get started, let me say that I like trees. I’ve planted trees. Just after I moved into this house (nearly 6 years ago!), I put a nice Green Ash in the front yard. I joined the National Arbor Day Foundation a year or two ago. The trees they sent me didn’t work out – I think they were too small. Or perhaps I waited too long to plant them. Just a couple weeks back, I planted a Red Scarlet Maple, a Wisconsin Weeping Willow and a Clump European White Birch in the back yard. I like trees.

I don’t get this at all. Who in their right mind could possibly think that a tree is worth $175,000? Now if you’re talking a famous tree – for instance the Angel Oak – then maybe. But a white ash tree in the middle of a neighborhood full of such trees? That doesn’t make any sense.

Sure, I understand that the tree provided shade. I understand that it was probably a nice addition to the landscape. But I cannot believe that you couldn’t spend a couple hundred bucks (if even that much) on a younger version of the same tree and plant it just about where the old one sat. It’ll take a few years to get to the right height, of course – but I doubt that’s worth anything like $175,000.

Somewhere along the line our priorities just got completely out of whack, and sooner or later we’re going to have to do something about it.

3 replies on “The Price of a Tree”

Look at it this way….

How much oxygen does a tree produce in a day?
What would be the cost of that oxygen in the market?

I agree with Shashi, the cost is more in terms of ecological value….and today when we talk so much about green technologies….the cost and value of trees is tremendous.

here i want to know the method of evaluating the price of a tree?
probably price is due to is oxegen generation, carbon sink, evaporating vapor, water holding capacity, wood , crop and invites rain.

$175,000 doesn’t seem unreasonable to me at all.

The assignment of value happens on an individual, and arbitrary basis. For any reason at all a person can attribute more or less value to an item. There is no universal standard.
For instance, you may have your father’s fishing pole. To you, it is near priceless, and while you might part with it for a million dollars, you really have no desire to see it go. However, the pole itself has little value to anyone but you. So, if someone comes along and destroys your fishing pole, should you be compensated what you felt it was worth, or what the rest of the free market says it’s worth?

Given the problem of the arbitrariness of value, how does one resolve such disputes? With “experts” and the data provided by the free market, and sometimes by the arbitrary decisions of a jury (when the market can’t give us a replacement value, like in the case of your fishing pole).

If the free market says that it would cost $175,000 to replace the destroyed tree with an equivalent tree, then that’s probably what it would cost. It was a huge tree. I have little doubt that even attempting to put in a tree of comparable size would be a monsterous operation with low success rates.

When it comes to trees, they only get bigger with time. You can’t magically make a big tree. While it might seem sane to you to simply place a smaller tree in the place of the old tree, this would not be the same as replacing the destroyed tree, not nearly so. I might equate such a thing as someone destroying your private jet and giving you some roller-skates and $5 in an interest beraing account and saying “These will get you around until you accumulate enough interest to actually replace your jet”.

Furthermore, there is tremendous measurable value to be had from large trees beyond their astetic value. Trees not only cool an area by providing shade but they also act like giant air-conditioners by storing/adding/removing water from the air. This effect can be many BTUs worth of heat for a large size tree, and smaller trees won’t even come close. To get a similar effect you might want to install and run (all day every day during the summer) several central air units in your back yard to go along with your new smaller tree.

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