How valuable are urban trees?

A recent project measures the true value of Wrexham’s urban trees.

FR News - November 2014

A recent project has revealed the true value of Wrexham’s urban trees. The first study of its kind in Wales, the results showed that the services and benefits provided by trees to the people of Wrexham are worth more than £1.2 million every year.

With urban space at a premium and competition for local authority resources intense, it is all the more important for councils to be able to quantify the value of the ecosystem services that trees provide. Forest Research and social enterprise company Treeconomics carried out a study for Wrexham County Borough Council and Natural Resources Wales using i-Tree Eco, a system for valuing urban trees developed by the US Forest Service and the Davey Tree Expert Company.

The project used tree and land-use information collected from over 200 plots across Wrexham to provide quantitative estimates of improvements to air quality, carbon capture and storage afforded by trees, canopy cover, tree population make-up, diversity and condition.

The yearly financial benefits for Wrexham were found to be a consequence of trees:

  • intercepting 278 million litres of rainfall which otherwise would have entered the drainage system, translating to a saving of £460,000 in sewerage charges;
  • absorbing 1,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere;
  • removing 60 tonnes of air pollution, which improves people’s health and is estimated to save the health service £700,000.

This study, together with similar studies for Edinburgh, Torbay and Victoria Business Improvement District, formed the centrepiece of an i-Tree Eco conference on 8 October in Ely, which aimed to raise awareness of i-Tree Eco for valuing the benefits of urban trees and to discuss its future in the UK and Europe.

In partnership with the US Forest Service, the Davey Tree Expert Company, Treeconomics and the Arboricultural Association, Forest Research is undertaking work to tailor i-Tree Eco for use in the UK, making it accessible to those without a scientific or technical background. More news of these developments will follow in the new year.

For more information, contact Kieron Doick.


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