What is the value of urban trees in megacities, measured in money? Is it even possible to express the value of urban trees in monetary terms? Researchers from ESF Department of Environmental Resources Engineering in the US have taken the trouble to evaluate the benefits of city trees. Their recently published study points out the findings – the value of urban trees – and puts hard facts on the table. Ten megacities from five continents were examined.
Value of Urban Trees: $505 Million Each Year and Megacity
The cleansing effect on urban environments, the more pleasurable atmosphere and the decreased urban heat island effect with all its consequences, such as a reduced energy demand for cooling, equals a mean value of US$505 million. Or to put it differently: It corresponds to a per capita value of US$35 or a mean value of US$1.2 million for each square kilometer of urban trees. The researchers analyzed the cities of Beijing, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, and Tokyo. With metropolis areas ranging from 1,173 to 18,720 sq km, the median tree coverage in these cities is about 21%.
39 m2 Trees Per Capita on The Average
“Megacities can increase these benefits on average by 85 percent,” said Endreny, the study’s lead author. “If trees were to be established throughout their potential cover area, they would serve to filter air and water pollutants and reduce building energy use, and improve human well-being while providing habitat and resources for other species in the urban area.”
“Trees have direct and indirect benefits for cooling buildings and reducing human suffering during heat waves,” Endreny said. “The direct benefit is shade which keeps the urban area cooler, the indirect benefit is transpiration of stormwater which turns hot air into cooler air.”
“Placing these results on the larger scale of socio-economic systems makes evident to what extent nature supports our individual and community well-being by providing ecosystem services for free,” said one of the co-authors, Professor Sergio Ulgiati of University Parthenope of Naples, Italy. “A deeper awareness of the economic value of free services provided by nature may increase our willingness to invest efforts and resources into natural capital conservation and correct exploitation, so that societal wealth, economic stability and well-being would also increase. As a follow-up of this joint research, we have created in our university an Urban Wellbeing Laboratory, jointly run by researchers and local stakeholders.”