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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



As urban greening efforts continue, it is important to assess whether decisions to intensify street tree planting are meeting intended goals of improving urban canopy cover and increasing ecosystem services. Benefits of the urban forest take many forms, from ecological and economic to social and cultural, and are frequently cited in support of street tree planting. However, it is unknown to what extent factors such as species or nursery production method affect the ability of trees to successfully establish and provide ecosystem services in the urban environment. Using a system of oak trees planted along roads in South Amherst, Massachusetts during spring 2014, growth in caliper at six inches, diameter at breast height, and total tree height from fall 2014 to fall 2018 were modeled to determine whether species and/or nursery production method influenced street tree establishment and growth. Economic benefits were examined using a novel approach, whereby the breakeven point of costs and returns in ecosystem services was identified. Results indicated that both species and nursery production method influenced the success of these trees, which provided a return on investment by year 2018, in terms of both growth and benefits provided. This information is relevant to tree wardens and others tasked with street tree planning and maintenance, who must work within the confines of limited budgets in an environment that poses many challenges for trees.


First Advisor

Richard W. Harper

Second Advisor

Stephen DeStefano

Third Advisor

Daniel A. Lass