Former AA President Lord Framlingham hosted the launch of the long awaited and much valued London i-Tree Eco urban forest survey attended by key figures including representatives from the AA at a Westminster reception on the 2nd December 2015. Using 300 volunteers the survey is the largest citizen science project of its kind and its results a testament to the quantifiable benefits of trees. With 8 million trees worth £6.1 billion to the capital the wider benefits (eco system services) in respect of storm water alleviation, carbon storage and pollution removal can now be broken down and quantified. The figures per annum are in the millions.
Flood and air pollution reduction were some of the key benefits revealed in the survey results. The removal of 2,241 tonnes of pollution, at a value of £126m per annum can be further broken down using i-Tree into each pollutant and by Inner, Outer and Greater London with removal the greatest for ozone.
With the current floods and heavy rains it is accepted that storm water run-off as well as river breaches played a key role in the severe flooding experienced in parts of the country. Climate change predictions suggest further extreme rainfall events and with an increase in building and impermeable services the risk of floods can only increase. The quantifiable benefit of trees to mitigate this will be of significant value in supporting the case for planting, maintenance and appropriate species choice. The report showed that in London storm water alleviation was 3,414,000m3 per annum, worth £2.8 million.
Summing up the importance of the report and its wider use in the UK Rory Stewart the Environment Minister invited Lord Framlingham to form a small team of experts to meet with him to discuss the issue of no one identified government minster with responsibility for trees. Our Vice Chair Keith Sacre will form part of this small informal group.
For a copy of the Report visit Valuing London's Urban Forest: Results of the London iTree ECO Project (PDF) >>
Looking to the future the AA is meeting with Forest Research and Treeconomics to plan the launch of i-Tree Eco Version 6 for the UK and the associated support, promotion and training with the support of the Forestry Commission. The development of a UK version has taken several years and we are delighted to be able to share with you that it will be available imminently enabling data collected in the UK to be translated into UK financials without recourse, and the inevitable delay, to the US.