Trees Boost Your Bottom Line

value of trees

Trees make life better. Photograph by Todd Ballantine

GREEN IS THE COLOR of Hilton Head Island. From the air, from your car and bike, from the fairway, from your patio: you can see that this place is the Kingdom of Trees. Thanks to stewardship of open space by developers and the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Island landscape is now a maturing, productive forest. From its grand live oaks and majestic tupelo gums to the palmettos and pines whispering in the wind, the community trees provide valuable goods and services for us all.


Money in the bank: 10 economic benefits of community trees

1. Property value. According to a University of Georgia study, property with trees has up to 27% higher value than a lot with no trees.

2. Shade is cool, literally. Shading trees lower the temperature of your home and yard by 20 degrees. This effect significantly shrinks your air conditioning demand – and electric bill.

3. Wind buffer. Island trees slow wind speed by nearly half. This benefit can enhance your heating bill in winter, reduce blowing dust, and protect landscape plantings from salt spray (airborne salt from the ocean and tidal marsh).

4. Air quality. Trees produce oxygen and buffer airborne toxins. This directly benefits your health.

5. Flood control. Trees slow moving water and trap debris. Through the process of evapotranspiration, trees remove nearly five feet of surface and water per acre annually.

6. Soil Conservation. Tree roots stabilize soil. Annual leaf fall (about 2 tons per acre annually) adds vital organic nutrients to your soil.

7. Noise reduction. Trees lower road noise, as islanders have learned from the buffers along William Hilton Parkway and the Cross Island Parkway.

8. Recreation. Every golfer knows that live oak on Fairway 16 is a nemesis, but that’s what makes the game a natural challenge.

9. A better neighborhood. Tree-lined streets attract families and encourage social interaction. Such a place has higher real estate value.

10. Wildlife habitat. Trees provide habitat for hundreds, if not thousands, of animal species. The sound of birds alone is a marketable asset. It says: this property is part of the natural landscape—this place is a home.

Protecting trees on Hilton Head Island

In 1986, the Town of Hilton Head Island passed the Tree Protection Ordinance to preserve the community’s diverse woodlands. At the time, fast-paced development threatened trees in the Island’s central core. The ordinance regulates tree removal and requires replacement to assure no net loss of trees or tree values.

Some in the community are now asking for changes to this ordinance. Increased permitting flexibility would allow the Town to respond to new development needs, such as road improvements and airport expansion. But the goods and services of trees, and the overwhelming dollar value they provide for everyone on this Tree Island, should not be compromised.