In the Council Meeting of 6th December 2011 Clr Macri said the following, “We are running out of suitable places to plant trees. We are scratching our heads where to plant trees. Staff are trying to find places to plant the 500 trees each year. Trees are being planted on top each other.” http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/report-from-the-gallery-6th-december-2011-part-1/
This prompted me to write a series of posts on the economic, social, environment & ecological benefits of the urban forest. Part 1 can be found here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/economic-benefits-of-the-urban-forest-part-1/
APPRECIATING INFRASTRUCTURE – The urban forest is the only infrastructure Councils own that keeps increasing in value. Therefore, Council should have a big enough annual budget to prune deadwood, to remove or repair concrete around trees where needed, to fertilize & mulch, to educate & establish community programs & generally care for street & park trees because they keep appreciating in value.
It does not make economic sense to leave a tree on its own only to chop it down when problems have surfaced, especially when something could have been done to remediate this months or years previously.
SAVING MONEY BY USING LESS POWER - You can run an air-conditioner & pay for increasing power costs or you can have trees. “The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” - US Department of Agriculture.
Planted in the right places, trees will reduce indoor summer heat by up to 8 degrees centigrade resulting in power savings for air-conditioning from 25-50% & even up to 80%.
Street trees in main shopping strips will benefit shops by providing natural cooling. This will certainly help the customer who unfortunately has to battle many shops in our LGA that don’t use air-conditioning during summer & as a result are unpleasant places to be. This has to reflect on their sales. A 5% increase in canopy results in 2 degrees cooling in summer.
GRAFFITI – Research has also shown that the more green & leafier an area, the less graffiti there is. [Note: I am not talking about street art, which is different than tagging]. It is well known that people travel to the Inner West to spray tags. The reason is obvious – more hard surfaces, less trees, more visibility. Taggers delight in having their tag everywhere, which is why they will spray every visible surface in a street or lane.
Marrickville Council has a huge budget for graffiti removal, which is a drain on the budget every year with still more demands for greater expenditure on graffiti removal. I believe that the experts are correct – planting more street trees & greening up an area creates greater community pride & a greater sense of ownership & that this translates into less graffiti.
RUBBISH DUMPING – Street trees & greening the environment is supposed to result in less illegal dumping & littering for the same reasons as graffiti – community pride & a sense of ownership. However, having seen the enormous amount of rubbish left by people in Tempe Reserve where there are bins within metres of everywhere people go, I think the issue goes deeper. We have a young & quite beautiful park surrounded by water, yet people still treat it like dirt. I wonder whether is it just a symptom of a lack of community pride & ownership that they carry with them even when in a place that is beautiful or something else.
Part 3 of the economic benefits will be posted soon.