Adobe Stock/Kevin Largent

Urban trees are particularly effective at absorbing CO2 and filtering air pollution, because they are located so close to sources such as fossil fuel-burning transport and industrial activity. In fact, they may store as much carbon per hectare as tropical rain forests, says Mathias Disney for Fast Company.

Researchers at University College London recently attempted to measure the benefits London residents gain from the trees and the environment’s natural filtration processes.

Finding ways to value trees more effectively is critical to building more sustainable and liveable cities. The ecosystem services provided by London’s trees were recently valued at £130m a year. This may equate to less than £20 a year per tree, but the real value may be much higher, given how hard it is to quantify the wider benefits of trees and how long they live. The cost of replacing a large, mature tree is many tens of thousands of pounds, and replacing it with one or more small saplings means you won’t see the equivalent net benefit for many decades after.

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