Who would have thought the trees could mean so much money for a Megacity! While they don’t necessarily generate a physical income, the work they do for the environment has a huge perceived value. From reducing air pollution and saving energy, to combatting the effects of climate change, urban trees are absolutely invaluable to the economy of a city.

Urban Trees

Each tree that is planted in a city is revered as a little monument of hope and joy. They are a stark contrast to the man-made structures that dominate the visual landscape of a big city.

Trees are incredibly soothing things. People are drawn to them for many reasons. They provide much needed shade in summer, they house cute and soul-lifting wildlife, they provide a welcome reminder of nature in a concrete jungle and they are beautiful whether they flower or not.

But urban trees do far more than add beauty and morale. They actually provide true value to a city. Recent research by the online journal Ecological Modelling has even put a number on the worth of urban trees. The going rate is somewhere in the region of $500,000,000 per year!

How Can A Bunch of Trees Be Worth $500,000,000?

Well for a start, trees provide their services without an hourly rate, without taking days off and without sick leave. They are the perfect workers as there are no overheads.

Trees help a city out with all sorts of expensive and vital services. These include…

  • Reduction of air pollution
  • Reduction of the need for stormwater runoff processing at expensive wastewater facilities
  • Reduction in energy costs for both heating and cooling buildings
  • Reduction of carbon emissions

The study examined the world’s 10 Megacities - Beijing, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, and Tokyo - which house 10% of the world’s population. It calculated the $500,000,000 figure as an average amount across each of these cities for what it would actually cost to undertake the services that the trees provide for free.

What If We Did More?

So the question has to be asked, what if these cities (and other cities all over the world) planted more trees?

This isn’t a trick question. If more trees are planted in each city, then they can do more of this valuable work. That means more air purification, less carbon emissions, less energy consumption and more feel-good factor. Trees are some of Mother Nature’s hardest workers.

Thankfully city planners are beginning to realise the valuable work that trees can do. They are planning more and more green spaces as part of revitalised and revamped cities.

Not only do trees look good, they do good work too. Let’s encourage the inclusion of trees in urban spaces the world round!