One of the most basic ideas in tree value is that of a comp or comparable.
Trees in the same neighborhood, say Washington Park, that are the same species and the same age will have the same value. If that same tree is located in eastern Aurora, it will have a different value and if it is in bad shape it will have a different value.
Real estate agents and environmentalists duly value trees based on:
- curb appeal
- heating and cooling savings
- ecological benefits
However, that is not a consideration in appraising a tree such as in an insurance claim or a dispute over accidental damage to a tree.
“Tree value is based strictly on its benefits to the home/land owner and/or the replacement cost, which can be tricky to find,” said Massachusetts arborist, Brian Thiebault
There are two main tree valuation approaches.
Replacement Cost Method
In the Replacement Cost Method, the consulting arborist seeks a direct replacement cost, size for size. The tree is then depreciated based on:
For example, say you lost a 50 foot oak. What would it cost to theoretically to replace it with another 50 foot oak?
This method works well because there is an assumption that the tree has already lived part of its life thus used up part of its value. It gets tricky because there is no actual market of mature trees to compare the final number to.
Cost to Cure Method
In the Cost to Cure Method, an assumption is made that the substitute will provide a similar level of benefits. The arborist then calculates the cost of buying and installing the substitute. If you have a 45 foot maple, it would be worth the value of three 15-foot maple of the same species, for example.
What makes a tree less valuable? You subtract factors such as:
- tree appearance and no tree pruning history
- disease, drought damage and general neglect
- location (ed. the tree is owned by Denver if its on the street / parkway)
If tree value seems highly subjective, it is! Unlike a house, a tree has a well defined growth period and decline. That said, a formal tree valuation is an opinion of the registered consulting arborist and does hold weight in legal proceedings and real estate transactions.