Treeconomics: extolling the benefits of trees and their contribution to the environment, human health, and well-being. The concept is particularly well suited to urban areas, respiratory health, shared community spaces, and also to the corporate rationale of return on investment. Research into the value of tree planting is that any costs in planting and maintaining a tree are greatly outweighed by the improvements in air and water quality.
Economic logic elevates urban forestry so that is considered by more companies and city councils. Indeed, London has planted 20,000 new trees in the last seven years.
Afforesting green areas or planting trees in previously cemented or asphalted areas bring a wealth of ecosystem services. One major and readily monetisable service of trees is carbon sequestration. The carbon capture benefits can encourage businesses and public sector authorities to maintain and further develop their tree populations and value these as assets, whilst also having the opportunity to promote the trees’ environmental benefits, as well as health benefits, and aesthetics.
When companies and city councils turn brown fields and cemented parts of cities into pleasant trees, it brings a breath of fresh air to local people.
This tussle shows how urban trees are both treasured and in jeopardy like never before – beset by disease and spurious insurance claims, and too readily felled by cash-strapped local authorities which only see their potential cost rather than their contribution to climate, public health and even the wealth of a city. Ever since Roger Ulrich discovered in 1984 that hospital patients appear to recover more quickly from surgery in rooms with green views, a growing body of scientific evidence has demonstrated the health – and wealth – benefits of trees in cities. In Toronto, researchers recently found that people living on tree-lined streets reported health benefits equivalent to being seven years younger or receiving a $10,000 salary rise.