The economy

Trees deliver a whole range of benefits, which make them an essential part of the future of any town or city. As well as a myriad of other things, trees and woods provide tangible uplift to the economy, and have can be seen as a monetary asset.

Working out the economic value of our trees and woods: Natural capital can be defined as the world's stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. It is from this natural capital that humans derive a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible. Natural capital accounts can show the monetary and economic value of these ecocystem services. The benefits delivered by Greater Manchester’s natural capital include: (1)

  • Global climate regulation (carbon): Greater Manchester’s urban woodland sequesters nearly 25,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year at a value of around £2m per year
  • Noise regulation: In total, nearly 430,000 buildings receive noise mitigation benefits due to Greater Manchester’s urban natural capital, estimated at £59m per year
  • Local climate regulation: Greater Manchester’s urban parks and woodland have a combined cooling effect of 0.50 degree Celsius. Productivity losses avoided due to the cooling effect of Greater Manchester’s urban parks and woodland is estimated at over £2m per year
  • Physical health benefits: Around 84,000 people meet their physical activity guidelines through visits to Greater Manchester’s greenspaces. Welfare gains associated with active visits to greenspaces are estimated at nearly £63m per year. This physical activity is also associated with avoided direct and indirect health costs of inactivity of nearly £40m per year.

In addition trees and woods provide a range of other economic benefits

  • Reducing urban green space maintenance costs – Much of the open space in towns is close-mown grass., but by developing woodland as an alternative reduces maintenance costs whilst providing recreational open space benefitting a wider range of people (2)
  • Increasing house prices – House prices are between 5% and 18% higher where property is associated with mature trees (3)

-------------------------------------

References 

  1. Developing Urban Natural Capital Accounts for the UK as part of the ONS-Defra 2020 Roadmap
  2. National Urban Forestry Unit (1998) Trees or Turf? National Urban Forestry Unit
  3. CABE Space (2005) Does money grow on trees? Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, London