This is a view out of the Velux from the bedroom window. You can see a wavy line of staggered semi-detached houses, their back gardens ending with a hedge, then a strip of grass then a row of mature trees. In all, the view could be a lot worse; it could look out onto yet more bland housing or unsightly industrial buildings.
What is the economic value of the line of mature trees behind these houses?
That may sound a bizarre question to ask, but that is exactly what a couple of UK government committees have been given the task of doing. More generally, they are to put a number against the value of the UK countryside and urban greenery. No kidding, it’s been on the radio.
To get an idea of the value this particular line of trees adds to the UK economy, you could quantify:
- reduction of sewerage/waste water disposal costs for the water company as the trees will absorb large amounts of rainfall
- reduction in damage to property or other structures by the trees acting as a substantial wind break
- increased price of property that face these trees
- increase in the Council Tax paid by these houses as the trees increase property value, pushing houses into higher Tax Bands (hence higher rates) than the houses would otherwise normally be in
- revenue for the Council from collecting the fallen leaves in autumn and selling as compost to gardeners
- Reduction in NHS health care costs from the increased mental well-being for the residents that benefit from these trees
- Reduction in NHS health care costs from the improved quality of environment created by the trees
- Reduction in sick leave costs for the businesses where the residents that benefit from these trees work
There will be many more points but it is jarring to think of this stately line of trees in this way. Given the environment these trees create and how they enhance not just my garden but my quality of life – I would say these trees are priceless.