Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest (LEAF) Centre

i-Tree Leeds: Putting a Value on the City’s Trees

June 11, 2018

As part of the Leeds4Trees project we are exploring the value of trees and green spaces across the city of Leeds, in collaboration with the United Bank of Carbon, the Sustainability Service at the University of Leeds, Leeds City Council, The Woodland Trust, Treeconomics and Forest Research.

Urban green spaces such as gardens, parks and woodlands provide many benefits to people and vital habitats for wildlife. Urban vegetation stores carbon, helping to mitigate climate change, and reduces the likelihood of flooding by storing excess rain water. Green spaces can improve air quality, limit the impact of heatwaves, encourage people to undertake physical activity and reduce depression. However, these benefits are difficult to quantify and compare to other uses of urban land.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said, “Leeds City Council wants to see the Northern Forest become a reality and we’re developing a plan to show where new trees and woodland should be created across the city. The council also knows that trees planted in the right places bring enormous benefits including helping with carbon storage, reducing pollution, and helping deal with flooding,”

The i-Tree Leeds project aims to provide evidence that can be used to support the preservation and creation of green space and woodland in Leeds.

“If you have any sort of interest in trees, it will not escape your attention that they are under threat, and increasingly in the public limelight. The nation is voicing its concern – especially in urban environments across the UK, ” said Joseph Coles, Street Trees Project Lead for the Woodland Trust.

Last summer saw a team of volunteer staff and students survey over 800 trees on the University of Leeds campus, identifying more than 100 different species! The campus trees are estimated to store over 300 tonnes of carbon (which is over 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide), and remove around 11 tonnes of carbon (40 tonnes of carbon dioxide) from the air every year.

“i-Tree Leeds is a perfect example of a strong local partnership working hard to calculate the value of trees; measuring their benefits at a community scale, aiming to build a broader picture of their contribution to the environment, and securing their place in a sustainable city of the future. The Woodland Trust’s Street Tree project is pleased to support this positive initiative, ” added Joseph Coles.

This summer the i-Tree Leeds project headed to Middleton in Leeds, “Having an i-Tree Eco survey in Middleton Park Ward will let us accurately plot where trees are, as well as their species, size and condition. It will help us measure how the trees help the local ecosystem, such as the amount of carbon they store and how much pollution they remove. At the same time each tree’s value can be calculated to show how much benefits it provides for the local community as monetary values,” said Cllr Blake, adding “what we learn from this will help us to know what the trees are doing to help improve health and wellbeing, and at the same time we hope to demonstrate the impact of a lack trees in other areas. This will help the city target future tree planting and woodland creation to those parts that need it most.”

The map above shows locations and species of trees on the University of Leeds campus and some of the benefits they provide. The map has three layers: 1) Species and measurements, 2) Carbon storage and sequestration, 3) Pollution removal – you can find more information on what this map shows here.

The map is easiest to view one layer at a time. To open a larger version in a new window click on the square icon in the top right corner. To view the map menu click on the window icon in the top left corner of the map.

To enable a layer either tick the box next to the layer name (e.g. Species and measurements) or click on the layer name. The icons contained in that layer will appear on the map. To disable a layer un-tick the box or click on the layer name.

Click on a tree icon or pointer to display information about that tree. Click on a part of the map without an icon to close the tree menu, or click the back arrow in the top left corner.

Any questions about this project – contact us at: itreeleeds@unitedbankofcarbon.com