Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Monetary Value of Toronto's Trees

There is growing interest in efforts to assign a price to nature and a new report quantifies the dollar value of trees in the city of Toronto. According to a report from the TD Bank released on Monday June 9, trees in Canada's largest city are worth about $700 each. Together Toronto's 10 million trees are valued at around $7 billion.

"Urban forests do more than beautify the scenery," the TD bank's chief economist Craig Alexander said. "They represent an important investment in environmental condition, human health and the overall quality of life."

A total of 190 square kilometres or almost one third (30 percent) of Toronto is covered by shrubbery and 116 different species of trees.

Toronto's trees remove 19 million tons of air pollution which amounts to one quarter of all the city's industrial emissions. (the equivalent of the yearly pollution output of one million cars, or 100,000 homes). Trees also serve as carbon sinks. It is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes of carbon are stored in Toronto's trees (equivalent to the carbon emissions from 700,000 cars a year). In addition to the amount of carbon already stored in Toronto's trees, another 46,000 tonnes of carbon are sequestered each year (equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 31,000 automobiles or 16,000 single-family homes).

In addition to reducing cold winds in the winter, trees keep the city cool in the summer. The TD report indicates that one tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners, running 20 hours a day.

Some of the benefits of trees are less obvious. For example, trees help to manage precipitation. Every year, Toronto's trees intercept 25 million cubic metres of rain and snow saving the city $53 million.

Trees also enhance property valuations and therefore property taxes. Properties with trees rent for 7 percent more than locations without trees.

Overall the report convincingly makes the case that trees are a good investment. According to Alexander, "for every dollar spent on maintenance in Toronto's urban parks, trees return $3.20 to the community."

To Read TD's complete report click here.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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