The International Undergraduate Journal For Service-Learning, Leadership, and Social Change


Background: Urban ecosystems face many environmental, infrastructure, and social systems challenges. Urban forest plays an important role in urban ecology but continue to face many direct and indirect threats. Research indicates that climate change, insects, disease, and urbanization are the major causes of urban forest decline. Tree canopies play a major role in ecosystem services, providing the advantages of a natural, cost-effective system of green infrastructure, removal of air and water pollutants, modulation of energy use, and improvement in water quality. These services increase climate resilience. Purpose: The purpose of this service-learning project was to gain a better understanding of ecosystem service benefits from trees in Washington, DC and whether these benefits facilitated Washington, DC being more climate resilient. Our aim was two-folds, to describe the monetary value of carbon sequestration from trees in DC, and to assist in identifying tree species in local neighborhoods. Methods: We collected tree canopy data using the i-Tree tool designed to provide an estimate of ecosystem service benefits and the TreeSnap tool designed to allow citizen scientists to make observations of trees in local communities and provide pictorial documents to scientists who catalog tree species. Results: Our results showed on average carbon sequestered by trees valued at $10,196,999 million dollars and carbon stored in trees was valued at $256,084,907 million dollars. Our other results showed the variety of tree species such as the Japanese Cherry Tree, have large bases, are plentiful throughout Washington, DC, and capable of storing large amounts of carbon. Conclusion: Washington, DC has increased the number of trees planted annually, which we believe creates a pathway to a climate-resilient city. As urban sustainability majors, this project enlightened our understanding of urban sustainability and climate resilience.



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