The hidden value of trees: quantifying the ecosystem services of tree lineages and their major threats across the contiguous US

  • Jeannine M Cavender-Bares (Creator)
  • Erik Nelson (Creator)
  • Jose Eduardo d Meireles (Creator)
  • Jesse R. Lasky (Creator)
  • Daniela A. Miteva (Creator)
  • David J. Nowak (Creator)
  • William D. Pearse (Creator)
  • Matthew R. Helmus (Creator)
  • Amy E. Zanne (Creator)
  • William Fagan (Creator)
  • Christopher Mihiar (Creator)
  • Nicholas Z. Muller (Creator)
  • Nathan J B Kraft (Creator)
  • Stephen Polasky (Creator)



Trees provide critical contributions to human well-being. They sequester and store greenhouse gasses, filter air pollutants, and provide wood, food, and other products, among other benefits. These benefits are threatened by climate change, fires, pests and pathogens. To quantify and map the current value of the flow of ecosystem services from US trees, and the potential threats they face, we combine macroevolutionary and economic valuation approaches using spatially explicit information about tree species and lineages. We show that the value of ecosystem services generated by US trees in forests, orchards, and plantations across five key services for which we had adequate data is $114 billion per annum (low: $85 B; high: $137 B; 2010 USD). The non-market ‘hidden’ ecosystem services of trees from carbon storage (51% of total value) and air pollution removal (37%) far exceed their commercial value from wood products and food crops (12%). The most valuable US tree species and lineages are also among those most threatened by known pests and pathogens, and the species most valuable for carbon storage are most at risk from increasing fire threat. Different species and lineages in different regions contribute to carbon storage and air pollution removal, which is distinct from tree crops that are often provided by the same species and lineages in different regions.

Funding information
Sponsorship: DBI-1052875
Date made availableJun 29 2021
PublisherData Repository for the University of Minnesota
Date of data productionJan 1 2010

Cite this