Vancouver’s urban forests generate $224 million in economic benefits: report
By Matt Kieltyka Metro
The Lower Mainland’s urban forests are worth their weight in green.
According to a TD Economics report released Wednesday, the trees lining city streets, living in yards and occupying parks throughout the Metro Vancouver region have an economic benefit of $224 million per year.
The report came up with the dollar figure by calculating the value of measurable benefits of trees in the form of air quality, energy saving (by providing shade), carbon sequestration and improving wet-weather flow.
“It’s great to look at the economic value and the pros and cons of parks for those that need the numbers. It’s for the accountants,” said Patricia Thomson, executive director of the Stanley Park Ecology Society. “It’s not easy to put a value on something like the recreation, improved mental health and serenity you get from nature.”
The TD report, coinciding with National Tree Day on Sept. 24, concludes that each dollar spent on urban forests in the region amounts to a “significant payoff” of $4.59 in annual benefits for residents.
Thomson was quick to point out green spaces like Stanley Park also offer countless other quality of life, educational and environmental benefits that can’t be measured in dollars.
The report did, however, identify a need for improvement within City of Vancouver boundaries.
Canopy cover in the city was “the lowest of the major cities we have examined”, the report found.
Vancouver has just 18 per cent canopy cover (the percentage of trees covering land as seen from above).
In comparison, Surrey boasts a much higher 32 per cent.
It’s a problem that the city has identified as part of its urban forestry strategy, which has set a goal of planting 150,000 new trees by 2020.
Many cities aim for 30 per cent coverage, city director of parks Bill Harding told Metro last year.
-with files from Emily Jackson