Oldham volunteers measure tree benefits

Volunteers working with Oldham Council and First Choice Homes Oldham have carried out the region’s first full and extensive examination of the benefits the borough’s trees bring.

Over the summer months trained volunteers, supervised by council staff, measured the trees that fall within around 220 randomly-assigned plots throughout Oldham as part of the i-Tree Eco Survey.

To coincide with National Tree Week (which runs until December 4) the findings have now been published, detailing how important greenery is to the borough, measuring things such as carbon dioxide and pollution removal.

In total there are 466,800 trees in the borough and they cover 11.8 per cent of the area. The most common types are larch, ash and alder.

A ‘pound-value’ of £2.1m per year has been attached to our trees. In other words this would be the cost to society for providing all of the environmental and ecosystem benefits that trees provide on a day to day basis for free.

The structural value or replacement cost of Oldham’s trees is a staggering £231m.

The study ensures that Oldham’s tree stock can be made healthy and resilient in the face of a changing climate, helping to maintain and improve the environment for residents. 

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “There is growing interest in determining the value of trees, especially in the light of climate change.

“It is extremely important that we understand their true value in the urban environment instead of focusing on some of the more minor seasonal nuisances they can cause.”

Julie Ashforth, Environmental Officer with First Choice Homes Oldham, added: “The urban forest helps to make better places to live, but if this resource is not measured then there is no baseline from which to have effective decision making, you simply cannot manage what you have not measured.”

This new collaborative project is to be undertaken in partnership with Treeconomics, the government agency Forest Research, with assistance from the Davey Institute and Manchester City of Trees.

The project used state-of-the-art software known as i-Tree Eco.

i-Tree has been used to successfully quantify the structure, function and benefits that trees provide in more than 60 urban communities across the globe. It was pioneered by Treeconomics and has been used in cities such as London, Glasgow, Swansea and Torbay.

Kenton Rogers founder of Treeconomics said: “Trees filter pollution, reduce flooding, increase property prices and these benefits - underpin economies, societies and individual wellbeing. So valuing the benefits of our trees makes economic sense.”

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