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Benjamin L. Green, Richard W. Harper, and Daniel A. Lass

Urban foresters must be able to accurately assess costs associated with planting trees in the built environment, especially since resources to perform community forest management are limited. Red oak (Quercus rubra) and swamp white oak (Q. bicolor) (n = 48) that were produced using four different nursery production systems—balled and burlapped (BNB), bare root (BR), pot-in-pot container grown (PIP), and in-ground fabric (IGF)—were evaluated to determine costs of planting in the urban environment. Costs associated with digging holes, moving the trees to the holes, and planting the trees were combined to determine the mean cost per tree: BNB trees cost $11.01 to plant, on average, which was significantly greater than PIP ($6.52), IGF ($5.38), and BR ($4.38) trees. Mean costs for BR trees were significantly lower than all other types of trees; IGF trees were less expensive to plant (by $1.14) than PIP trees, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.058). Probabilities that cost per tree are less than specific values also are calculated. For example, the probabilities that IGF and BR can be planted for less than $8.00 per tree are 1.00. The probability that a PIP can be planted for less than $8.00 is 0.86, whereas the probability for a BNB tree is just 0.01. This study demonstrates that the cost of planting urban trees may be affected significantly in accordance with their respective nursery production method.

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Jason Ernest Elvin Dampier, Richard W. Harper, Ashley McElhinney, and Eric Biltonen

Chinese hemlock (Tsuga chinensis) exhibits a high level of resistance to the exotic insect hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae) relative to the native and widely planted eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Furthermore, both chinese and eastern hemlock exhibit similar autecologic and aesthetic characteristics in urban and suburban environments. This study provides a comparative 25-year economic benefit-cost analysis (BCA), tracking estimated establishment and insect control costs for the two tree species. Eastern hemlock survival requires insecticide treatments when growing within the range of HWA. Insect control scenarios used and evaluated in this study include annual horticultural oil spray, biannual horticultural oil spray, biennial imidacloprid soil drench, and no treatment. The chinese hemlock scenario did not include chemical insect control because of the species’ host plant resistance (HPR) to HWA. Benefits were estimated using the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service’s i-Tree tool, which estimates economic benefits for ecosystem services (expressed in dollars). Benefit–cost ratios (BCRs) were developed using the present value for 25-year benefit and cost streams at 2% and 4% discount rates. Payback periods were also estimated for all options that had a calculated BCR greater than one. The benefit–cost analyses for each insect control scenario were evaluated, compared, and assessed through the lens of market potential. The costs exceed the benefits for all of the eastern hemlock scenarios. The benefits exceed costs for the chinese hemlock scenario. Results suggest that chinese hemlock is a viable alternative to eastern hemlock in view of its HPR and reduced associated costs over time. If chinese hemlock becomes more widely planted, it is expected to produce greater BCRs relative to chemical control options as a result of the lack of required, ongoing insect control treatment costs.