Trees in an urban environment can be nice to look at, provide (at times) much needed shade and can break up the monotony of a built environment. But trees provide much greater benefit to the community.

What benefit? There are many…and some may surprise you.

 

The economic benefits of trees

Trees, we know implicitly, are good for us, our environment and our cities. But there is also an economic good to trees.

This recent article in The Guardian introduces a new way for some to consider the importance of trees – Treeconomics. While it sounds crude to the ordinary person, to consider trees as an economic good can actually help landowners, policymakers and even big business to pay more attention to trees.

Among the research outlined in the article include:

“…researchers recently found that people living on tree-lined streets reported health benefits equivalent to being seven years younger.” (health cost benefits)

 

“…economic studies show what any estate agent swears by: leafy streets sell houses.” (financial benefits)

On that second quote, this Sydney Morning Herald article suggests that living near Centennial Parklands may add 10-20 per cent to the value of a house!

The economic benefits of trees also come through saved costs to society. There is much evidence that – for example – patients with views of trees out of their windows heal faster and with less complications. Trees, and spending time in nature, also provides endless benefit to the mental health of people, and can reduce the costs associated with mental health treatment, depression and other restrictive health concerns. These are all downstream health costs saved by prevention rather than cure.

 

Two figs in Centennial Park (image by Bettina Cutler)

Two figs in Centennial Park (image by Bettina Cutler)

 

The climate benefits of trees

Other research (summarised here and here) look at the climate benefits that trees in urban landscapes provide, including:

  • Trees clean the air – they absorb odours, pollutants and filter particulates from the air
  • Trees cool our cities – they shade homes and streets, break up urban “heat islands” and release water vapour into the air through their leaves.
  • Trees conserve energy – strategically placed trees around buildings can reduce summer air-conditioning needs (for example).

As we consider, as a planet, how we can reduce our environmental impacts and mitigate any future rises in global temperatures, a ‘greening of our cities’ is certainly part of the answer. See how Melbourne City Council is looking at these issues or what was the outcome of recent joint research by the City of Sydney / UTS.

 

The social benefits of trees

There are numerous social benefits coming from trees in an urban setting, including:

  • Trees increase quality of life in our cities
  • Trees create a personal connection to the natural world
  • Trees can create social cohesion around a sense of community identity and pride

And some research even finds that the presence of trees in urban settings reduces violence and reduces levels of fear and tension for residents.

 

More than 15,000 trees are maintained across Centennial Parklands

More than 15,000 trees are maintained across Centennial Parklands

 

The benefits to kids of trees

It is becoming more and more important to encourage the next generation to understand, appreciate and explore trees and nature. Here’s a horrible observation:

“The Average Australian child spends less time outside than a maximum security prisoner” - Griffin Longley, the CEO of Nature Play WA.

Trees are great teachers. The cliché ‘nature is our greatest teacher’ is never more relevant than when it comes to trees. Trees support the ecosystem around them. They provide demonstrations of the life-cycle of both flora and fauna, and can even be tools through which kids can learn physical, mental and social skills (read how the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden coming to Centennial Park will provide such benefits).

Spending time surrounded by trees in nature can:

  • help combat obesity in children
  • increase self-esteem and resilience
  • improve academic performance
  • improve social skills
  • help with problems such as attention deficit disorder

 

Centennial Parklands and trees

Centennial Parklands features more than 15,000 trees across its three parks, some of which appear on Significant Tree Registers (such as this one). We manage our tree population proactively, under the guidance of an industry-leading Tree Master Plan.

 

Want to know more about the benefit of trees?

Further posts about trees and Centennial Parklands can be found here and here.

Also, as part of the their National Tree Day program, Planet Ark produced a great summary document summarising the value of trees (download PDF).

If you’re interested in learning (and experiencing) more about trees, we run seasonal tree tours in Centennial Park. Visit our online events program for details or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to hear about the next one coming up.

 

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