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Nov 13, 2012 9:58 AM by Ryan Haarer

U of A's thousands of trees provide much more than shade

TUCSON- The University of Arizona arboretum includes over 8,000 trees from all over the world. It's an eclectic mix providing lessons and benefits to the planet.

"We enjoy the shade that they provide, they are beautiful. They create this environment that we enjoy being in and makes us feel good. But, what we don't realize is the environmental benefits they contribute," said arboretum director, Tanya Quist.

Benefits were revealed in a recent assessment by students at the u of a school of plants and sciences.

"(They) do a quick measurement of diameter of a breast height which is four and a half feet up the trunk and then input that into the itree software and it does the calculations for you to extrapolate based on the species," said Quist.

The results revealed that each tree has a major environmental impact. "The study revealed on average these trees offer 44 dollars worth of benefits. Some offer up to 200.

"It factors in the reduction in energy in heating and cooling costs. They're reducing floodwaters so it mitigates municipal flood cleanup costs. It captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and other greenhouse gasses," said Quist.

In terms of water alone, it is estimated that the trees trap and filter over 2.8 million gallons of water every year.

While the study chalks up the ecosystem benefits to 272-thousand dollars a year, Quist says the biggest benefits are the lessons it provides.

"Our priority is to be educators. Primarily to educate the students that we have here who go forth and be leaders. So if we can change the way we think, change the way the upcoming generation thinks about the landscape around them, we've revolutionized the future."

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