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05 - Assessing Hurricane Impacts on Ecosystem Services for Urban Forests in Louisiana, U.S.A.

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XXV IUFRO WORLD CONGRESS

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Abstract

Hurricane Gustav was the second most destructive hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. In Baton Rouge,  Louisiana the wind damage from Gustav was the worst of any storm in memory. Thousands of urban forest trees were uprooted and snapped in half by Gustav's fierce winds. A post hurricane analysis of the Baton Rouge’s urban forest ecosystem was conducted using i-Tree Eco software application and based on the Urban Forest Effects Model (UFORE). The analysis revealed that this area has about 1,036,175 trees with tree canopies that cover 44.6 % percent of the city. The analysis reveals a significant tree canopy reduction. The city has more than 45 tree species. Trees currently store about 2 million tons of carbon per year with an associated estimated value of $ 41 million per year. In addition, these trees remove about 178,354 tons of CO2 per year with an associated estimated value of $1.1 million per year. Baton Rouge’s trees are estimated to reduce annual residential energy costs by $8.0 million annually and reduce air pollution (ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide) by 860 tons per year with an associated estimated value of $6.86 million per year. The structural value of the trees is estimated at $ 6.2 billion. With the increase in climate variability, increased frequency and intensity of storms, and urbanization pressure, more trees need to be planted and maintained to sustain the current level of structural values and ecological services.

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