Investing in Tree(s) for A Better Live

Two years ago, we had road construction for widening the intercity road. It resulted in cutting down trees that disturb the project. 30 Tamarind trees (Tamarindus indica) which are more than 100 years old were planned to be cut down, but due to initiative of some students; media pressure, and willingness industries to adopt the trees, government (and the road contractor) agreed to moved 20 trees. The cost for moving each tree is around 1,071.29 USD which then was shared between government and industries which willing to adopt it by 1:2. The local government don’t calculate the tree services, and they should to understand how much they lost (in rupiah) by ‘cleaning’ up the trees as the area where they were is heavy industrial area.

So, tree is known for their diverse services, from social to environmental. This services is often not calculated (economically) which makes them undervalued in most of our cities. The last two days,  Jesse Kirk, an arborist in Mission Hills (Kansas City), took us to see the city’s investment on tree and its management.

As we strolled around, we met with a private company hired by the city to plant the tree. This year, Mission Hills plans to plant around 73 trees. Their tree inventory document shows how massive the city (which is considered as small city – 2.02 square miles) have 4,500 trees in 108 species (native and non-native). The some of the reason(s) for choosing non-native are for estethic and easier to manage. There are 3 things that I found out interesting during our conversation with Jesse:

  1. Private company give one year guarantee for the tree. If the tree died (within the time guarantee), they will send the new tree but the city had to pay for the planting cost, around 150 USD.
  2. The city also responsible in pruning the trees and do it in 3 years cycle (done by private company), which is way ahead other city. The other city have pruning cycles between 8-10 years cycle, because the pruning cost is expensive. During the pruning, all the trunks and twigs immediately go into the composting machine
  3. If you want to expand the house, the contractor have to send the design to city to be inspected or monitor. This design includes which tree that will be kept or remove. During the inspection, the inspector re-measured the tree and compare the measurement with the contractor measurement. After that they will send advice to improve the construction
  4. The city ‘spaces’ is including 10-17 feet of your lawn which is adjacent to the road. So when the homeowner would like to expand their house and cut down tree that live in the city ‘space’, they will have fines and it is calculated based on the tree service. To be able to calculate it (economically), use i-tree, a free apps that you could download ( But you have to own your baseline data and it is develop only for The States, Canada, Mexico, UK, and Australia.
  5. Mission hills ‘ 2013 report on community forestry program: inventory result and management recommendation stated that total annual benefits from the trees that the city managed was 1,230,242 USD.
The composting ‘tree eater’ machine 

What I probably do is starting the baseline data for the riverbank with participatory research involving student research/ conservation group and together we will try to calculate it based on their environmental services.



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