Trees are rarely valued properly, there are numerous factors to take
into consideration and as such the real or financial value of a particular tree is hard if not simply impossible to ascertain. Following on from work carried out by D R Helliwell and latterly the CAVAT system and in light of growing academic research, (particularly into the sustainable attributes of tree planting, which has yet to have penetrated the psyche of the average layman and thus rarely gets any serious consideration from government), this list illustrates just how much value can actually be placed on any particular tree.
The Environmental Value: It is well documented that trees have the ability to lessen pollution, create shade and a more ambient atmosphere in urban settings. They can reduce wind hazard, stabilise soils and create O2 from CO2. There are numerous scientific methods to calculate each relevant environmental benefit a tree can have but essentially, and this goes for all the subsequent values listed below, it is essential to determine such factors on each individual specimen.
The Ecological Value: A single tree is a habitat in itself, the huge range of both flora and fauna which can benefit from the trees presence can often play a huge role in the surrounding habitat. Beneficial animals will help to control pests in productive gardens, the mychorrizal fungi's help in the remediation of the soils.
The Landscape Value: (see D R Helliwells valuation method). Obviously there are many trees in the landscape that will actually increase the land and property value of any given area. The thought process by Landscape Architects and Garden Designers, (as well as amateur gardener), in determining the placement of a tree has a financial worth. This value is increased year on year as the tree matures and gives benefit to more and more people. Peter Blake, former Chairman of the International Tree Foundation, Cornwall Branch and retired County Horticulturalist, gave many hours to campaign in convincing developers and councils that new developments had to planted with trees, using the facts that those sites which were, were simply stronger community areas as a result, the take up was poor and remains so as the maintenance costs are too high - yet the benefits socially and financially of trees in the community clearly mark this to be a massive false economy.
The Nursery Value: A simple value and often used as a tool for insurance purposes. If the tree was removed how much would it cost to replace the tree as it was. Imagine such costs if the tree was a 150 year old Oak, (hiring in the kind of machinery required alone would amount to 5 figures).
The Holistic value: Trees are more and more being seen as a method of determining an event, and unfortunately often a bereavement. Sometimes the tree is the event itself - the site of a proposal, death or other life changing moment. As these trees mature how can you place a value on this and if you were to do so, imagine just how much this is could amount to. Celebrity trees can often hold a huge value - the tree Mark Bolan crashed into or the famously photographed drooping palm on a beach, (how much in financial royalties is this tree owed?). We all have our favourite places - the trees in those places hold tremendous value to us and as such each of us can place a huge value to a particular tree, which cannot be quantified by anyone else - but must be taken into account. Evidence from psychology scientists is that a tree is remembered within a memory easily, if someone is searching out the backdrop to a distant memory and the trees contained within that memory have disappeared the memory disappears also.
the Acer pseudoplatanus Mark Bolan of T Rex crashed into.
Add up all the above, if you can, you are looking at a hefty price tag. As such when a tree is felled simply because it blocks the light to the bathroom window, how much money is lost. If property values started to reflect these values, (indeed many do, but via property valuation which is usually always a 'comparable' value and as such should hold little credence), we would see some real and long overdue financial injections into the landscaping and arboricultural industries. In particular the short sighted local governmental decisions to simply cut down trees or not to plant in the first place to save costs, actually miss out on huge real financial added value to the community they are meant to serve.
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