Okay, I know money doesn’t actually grow on trees. But it might as well. In fact, the dollar value of trees is scientifically measurable. Research actually shows that trees are providing genuine economic benefits to people that are truly worth protecting.
Just one example is one that we tend to think of first: trees improve air quality and not only support life but as a whole support our respiratory health. So a direct benefit is the reduction of medical costs and lost productivity.
Just look at some of the value trees have to offer us:
Urban parks and street trees, referred to as “metro nature”, can:
- Build safer, happier communities
- Encourage exercise and so extend life expectancy
- Improve mental health
- Increase property values
Our natural forests help to:
- Improve air, soil and water quality
- Stabilise climate
- Store carbon
- Provide World Heritage value, which can attract billions of Eco Tourism dollars
- Protect coastal areas from costly storm damage
- Support sustainable fisheries by providing value habitat for juvenile sea life
Riparian zone vegetation (growing along the edges of rivers and creeks) helps by:
- Keeping fresh waterways clean
- protecting fish and providing wildlife habitat
- Maintaining valuable agricultural land by preventing erosion
So trees are sometimes overlooked for their economic values and benefits. But thankfully this is changing thanks to research tools that have begun to measure and evaluate more thoroughly what trees actually do for us.
A fantastic American innovation known as iTree is “quantifying the environmental services that trees provide”. This online tool empowers communities, citizen scientists and students to calculate the true value provided by trees and so put forward more quantifiable argument for their preservation. This also allows for developers to undertake some realistic research into the real value of their sites as they undertake planning.
The best news is that we can definitely strike a balance between human development and protecting trees. But it does require some scientific expertise.
For example, Environmental Scientists use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify vegetation types, helping to better identify their value and so manage them appropriately.
Environmental Consultants can also help guide responsible land development by providing management plans, environmental impact assessments, rehabilitation plans and ecological assessments that address the values and restrictions of your development site. Armed with this knowledge and expertise you can better plan your development to ensure government requirements are met and the site meets the best possible combination of economic and environmental value.
And of course, protecting trees means that they will continue benefiting many generations to come. Now we know how valuable trees are! They really are the gift that keeps on giving.