It is a big day for your tree. All of the hard working leaves, branches and needles that make our neighbourhoods, parks, and cities complete can tell us a little more about themselves. And that’s because today we, along with Ryerson University launched the Ontario Residential Tree Benefits Estimator.
The online tool can be accessed on smartphones, tablets or in the comfort of your home. It is the newest way LEAF is working to not just work to protect and improve the urban forest, but to communicate its value in concrete figures. It blends current science with the economic realities of living in Ontario and points to trees as a way to save money on electricity, reduce our carbon footprint and help build cleaner, healthier cities.
These are things that go beyond just beautifying spaces (but that’s a huge benefit as well!) and bring something new to the conversation about our leafy friends. To test it out, I just put in the details for the red oak that the city just recently planted in my front yard and found out the tree will:
• have a replacement value of $829 in 10 years
• have a replacement value of $6,955 in 40 years
• sequester 6,385 kilograms of CO2
• mitigate 639,330 litres of stormwater
• remove 82 kilograms of air pollution
Fancy stuff for just a little tree. And Kyle, our Manager of Marketing and Communications just pointed out that it’s hard to just think of the benefits of one single tree. My red oak is just one of many and together they form an ecosystem that - according to Every Tree Counts, the report on Toronto’s urban forest - has an estimated structural value of $7 billion.
Still it is interesting to think of the tree in isolation, and to realize that it is not just a pretty trunk. And I’m excited to share this experience with my friends and family so they can calculate the value of their corner of the urban forest.
A screen grab of the estimator in action.
As our Executive Director at LEAF, Janet McKay, put it nicely, “we wanted the tool to be free and accessible to everyone. It’s a fun way to estimate the benefits your trees can provide and we hope it will encourage people to protect the trees they have and plant new ones.”
This of course helps to build a stronger case for investment in the urban forest. The estimator focuses on the value of residential trees – the ones in your yard and around your home. But as we begin to see the tangible value in these trees that literally live right next to us, perhaps we can begin to see it in the ones on our streets and in our parks. The value of our urban trees is something we need to identify, remember and work together to increase. So what's your tree worth? Click here to try it out for yourself.