LiveWest has become the first housing association in England to launch a fact-finding mission into the benefits of its trees.
The south west’s leading housing provider has more than 28,000 trees across the region and was keen to discover the benefits of its stock to the environment.
So they joined forces with specialist company Treeconomics to tap into a software system called i-Tree, developed by the United States Forest Service and supported by the Forestry Commission, to calculate the benefits their trees provide.
With 153 different species of trees across its geography, figures revealed that the replacement value of LiveWest’s tree stock is £15.1million and the value of the amenity they provide is £148million.
Research also found that the trees removed 3.9 tonnes of airborne pollution and 109 tonnes of carbon from the air each year – a combined benefit valued at £72,000.
Elsewhere it was discovered that LiveWest’s trees absorb around a third of the carbon emitted from its 308 repairs’ vans.
The project valued the 3,618 tonnes of carbon stored by our trees at £862,466.
LiveWest’s trees prevent 10,700 cubic metres of storm water going down the drain – an annual benefit of more than £16,000.
The report also highlighted the threats to the trees from problems such as ash dieback disease and invasive pests.
LiveWest Estate Services Technical Manager Rob Scholefield, who manages the tree stock and worked with Treeconomics on the report, said: “Having this positive information about the benefits of our tree stock will help us to manage the urban forest going forward to ensure that it continues to provide maximum benefits to communities.
“Climate change and invasive pests and diseases pose a real challenge so we need to plan for the future and make sure that the new trees we plant will be robust enough to survive these threats.
“Trees can sometimes be viewed as a nuisance, but this report clearly shows how valuable they are – an asset rather than a liability.
“Trees and green space also provide many other benefits – cooling estates in summer, encouraging wildlife into urban areas, and providing space for recreation and education opportunities.
“Research has also shown that social housing residents with higher tree cover near their homes reported higher mental wellbeing than residents with negligible green space nearby.”
LiveWest plans to build 16,000 new homes over the next 10 years, which will result in £2billion invested across the region.
The protection of green spaces across its geography is part of its drive to build thriving communities.
“We value our green spaces and want to ensure that our customers get the best out of them.
“As the weather improves, these green spaces become increasingly used and can become a focal point for community activity.”