Exeter Based Treeconomics Launches Project To Investigate Urban Trees
After working on projects both across the UK and internationally, Exeter based social enterprise Treeconomics is taking a local turn with the launch of a local project set to benefit the community.
Treeconomics has quantified the ecosystem services and benefits of urban forests in a variety of locations, including Torbay, Hyde Park, and Sweden.
With the UK needing to “apply more challenging measures” to achieve the carbon budget target of 1,725 MtCO2e by 2030 , the work of Treeconomics in assessing the potential of urban trees to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere is of increasing importance.
According to Treeconomics Urban Forest Technician, Danielle Hill,
“trees provide multiple ecosystem services such as air pollution removal and reduction of surface run off, alongside benefits to health, wellbeing and quality of life.”
Targets for tree canopy cover have been implemented across the UK, with London aiming for 30%, and both Torbay and Plymouth having set goals of 20%. Interestingly, Bristol has set a target to double its canopy cover from 15 to 30% by 2050.
Some other cities, meanwhile, already exceed these targets. For example, Farnham has an urban tree canopy cover of 42%.
A 2018 survey by Treeconomics revealed that tree cover in Exeter is 24.5%.
University of Exeter Green Consultant, Ciara Munnery, has been using Treeconomics’ i-Tree software to analyse canopy cover for each ward in Exeter, and has found that tree cover varies considerably;
“Tree cover is lowest over Newton and St Leonard’s, at 21%, though this is still above the UK average. Yet it is important to consider that ward boundaries do not only include urban spaces, but forests and woods. This has led to significantly higher figures for other wards such as Pennsylvania, and Exwick, where canopy cover is 40.8% and 39.7% respectively”.
So how would this differ if we looked at urban areas exclusively? Treeconomics intends to use i-Tree to commence a further study of Exeter’s urban forest, through collecting additional data this summer.
Treeconomics co-founder, Kenton Rogers, hopes that the Exeter project will provide a detailed picture of the ecosystem benefits currently produced, allowing Exeter to become a model city, with the opportunity to test new ideas regarding the trees of the local area.
The project, due to finish in December, will be a valuable initiative for Exeter communities to engage with their urban forests. It will allow for local groups to be involved in the data collection, and then decision making, and will act as a framework to guide development with the urban forest at its heart.