Assessing Timberland Value

Money doesn't grow on trees, but your timberland may have aesthetic and environmental value that can be measured in dollars-and-cents.

Scott Cullen is a registered consulting arborist who works on tree appraisals. He says there are several reasons why it's important to know what your trees are worth. One is recouping losses from storm damage, and the cost to replace trees.

"Whether you can take a casualty loss deduction on your federal income taxes, and whether you are entitled to any insurance coverage for the loss of those trees," says Cullen. "You might also want to know if you're going to sell your property whether the particular trees either add value to the property, or detract from the value of the property."

Arborists who assess the value of trees work under a set of appraisal guidelines that are recognized by insurance companies, the courts, and in some cases, the IRS.

"Generally the things that you're going to look at are the species of tree, then they're going to look at the size," he says. "Is it small enough to be replaceable? Is it too large to reasonably replace? They're going to look at the condition of the tree. Was it a nice healthy structurally sound tree? And they're going to look at the location of the tree, and what it does for the property."

An appraisal can be done after your trees have suffered damage, but it's wise to do it while trees are healthy. Take pictures of your landscape to make before-and-after comparisons easier and expedite processing of insurance claims.

To hire a qualified plant appraiser, check online at the International Society of Arboriculture.

Learn more about assessing the value of your trees

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