TREE experts have been undertaking a groundbreaking project to put a value on the benefit of Wrexham’s urban trees.
The first phase of the project to put a price on the environmental, social and economic benefits of the trees has recently been completed.
The Wrexham i-Tree Eco project is the first of its kind in Wales and aims to quantify the value to society of the trees in the area using sophisticated valuation software developed in the United States.
The town was chosen after 7,000 trees were planted in Caia Park to improve community life.
Six surveyors, working in small teams, visited more than 200 locations in 12 parts of Wrexham and the wider county borough.
They gathered a range of data for the project, which is jointly funded by Natural Resources Wales and Wrexham Council.
The team, led by Forest Research, looked at the size and condition of a range of tree and shrub species.
It also examined the type of land on which they were found, including parks, urban woodland, car parks, shopping centres and private gardens.
The aim is to give a monetary value to the benefits of trees by looking at the amount of carbon and other airborne pollutants captured and stored by Wrexham’s urban trees, as well as their contribution to reducing the effects of climate change.
The project will also examine the trees’ resistance to pests and diseases and measure their contribution to people’s quality of life by cooling town centres in summer, slowing storm water run-off, and providing sound and visual screening.
The information will be sent to the US Forest Service which will analyse the data using its i-Tree software.
The results will then be interpreted by Forest Research, which will compile a report by early 2014.
Dafydd Fryer, of Natural Resources Wales, said: “Trees are closely linked to our health and wellbeing, especially in our towns and cities.
“Urban trees not only provide benefits that can be estimated and valued – such as filtering pollution from the air – but also contribute to less tangible benefits that make our towns and cities better places to live, creating attractive spaces for people to meet and socialise, and connecting us to nature.
“The physical effects of trees all have economic benefits. Years of extensive research in the United States indicates that where there are trees and green spaces businesses thrive, people linger and shop longer, apartments and office space rent quicker, tenants stay longer, property values increase and new business and industry is attracted.”
Wrexham Council’s arboricultural officer Moray Simpson said: “We’re a proactive council when it comes to our trees, but in planning a strategy for the management of our urban forest we need to know what we’ve got first.
“It’s more important than ever to understand the structure and value of our green infrastructure so we can plan to ensure Wrexham county borough’s towns are pleasant, sustainable and prosperous places to live and work.
“By placing a value on the benefits to society of our urban trees the importance of this resource can be made tangible to policy makers, local communities and businesses.”