The benefits of urban trees are well known; as well as their intrinsic aesthetic beauty which shapes the landscapes of our towns and cities, trees also provide a multitude of environmental services. These include slowing rainwater runoff, providing cooling shade in the ‘urban heat island’, shelter from winds in urban canyons, storage of carbon and improving air quality by filtering polluting particulates.
Cities in the UK are suffering from increasing amounts of hard-surfacing which can contribute to flash floods due to speedy runoff of rainwater as well as reflect heat during the summer which causes higher than average temperatures in built up areas. Although cars are manufactured to be cleaner and greener now, increasing volumes of traffic contribute to polluting particulates which reduce air-quality and cause respiratory problems.
Clearly urban trees have much to offer in order to make our cities more sustainable, healthy and pleasant places to be. With this in mind, Barton Tree Consultancy are focussed on working to quantify the benefits of urban trees in order to safeguard existing trees and promote the value of planting more trees. In 2014 we worked on several urban forest assessments in Bridgend and London using the i-Tree Eco model. This work entails collecting field data from thousands of randomly sampled pieces of land across a given area, including tree details, land-use, ground surface coverings and shrub cover. The data is then analysed to provide a comprehensive picture of the structure of the urban forest and its financial value to the area.
Results are still being analysed for Bridgend and London, but as an example a study undertaken by Treeconomics in Torbay found that the trees there remove 50 tonnes of pollution per year and store 98,000 tonnes of carbon. These trees have a structural (replacement) value of £280 million, and provide over £6 million of environmental benefits per year!
If you would like more information on assessing the urban forest in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.