Trees have value. While this sounds obvious, researchers and academics around the world have undertaken much work quantifying some of the benefits of trees.
But first, why would we want to put a value on trees?
Let’s start with this quote from a SMH article a little while ago:
IT’S simple, says Harry Triguboff. Sydney has too much green and not enough grey, and if you want to look at trees – well, go climb a mountain.
Whether or not this was simply a throwaway line to grab a headline, if this was the view of people who shape the way our cities and our communities develop and function, we need a re-think.
The long-term benefit of trees can be encapsulated in this anecdote quoted by US President John F Kennedy:
The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!’
What does the research say?
There is literally volumes of research and any number of angles regarding the value of trees, however here are a few research outcomes of direct interest:
From the US:
In New York in 1994, the value of the city’s trees in removing pollutants was estimated at US$10 million per year. Planting 11 million trees in the Los Angeles basin saves US$50 million per year on air conditioning bills. - Moore, University of Melbourne, 2009
And closer to home:
A study of over 200,000 Australians aged 45 years and above found those living in areas with more than 20% green space within a one-kilometre radius of their home were significantly more likely to walk and participate in moderate-to-vigorous physical activities. Greener neighbourhoods promote not only weekly participation, but also more frequent sessions of walking and moderate-to-vigorous activity, such as jogging and team sports. Green space was found to increase the odds of a resident taking a weekly walk or engaging in moderate-to-vigorous exercise by 6 and 8% respectively. It may be concluded that increased green spaces may increase health benefits of those residing nearby. - Astell-Burt, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013
And even closer to home:
Giving children access to nature promotes their mental and emotional wellbeing and has a positive effect on the behaviour of some children. – London Sustainable Development Commission, 2011
Starting to see why it is important to put a value on trees?
Research like this brings specifics to the discussion. It makes the discussion more tangible, more relevant and more personal. Instead of Lyautey’s 100 years view, we can see benefits just a few years ahead. This is particularly important for policy makers, community creators and rebutting viewpoints like the one outlined earlier.
Centennial Parklands’ trees
Centennial Parklands features more than 15,000 trees, and indeed include some of the most significant trees in Sydney. We manage our tree population with guidance from our industry-recognised Tree Master Plan, which provides a strategy for planting, maintenance and replacement. The aim of the Plan is to ensure we maintain a healthy, sustainable and plentiful tree population. It also seeks to ensure we promote greater diversity in tree species to support and encourage greater biodiversity in our native bird and wildlife populations.
But enough with the words, let’s just take a look at some of our favourite trees in Centennial Parklands!