Did you ever wonder what is the economic value of a tree?
A tree is an important element not only in countryside, but also within the urban mosaic: thanks to its ecosystem services, given back for free, it can really make a difference in the urban context. Let’s think for example to the positive psycho-physical effect of green areas, to the social value, but also to the historical value of trees as symbols of a past era or a particular event. The price variation of buildings when they are nearby of trees it is not by chance.
For these reasons, it is essential to calculate what is the economic value of a tree. While the assessment of woodland species and orchards is quite easy, it is not the same for a urban tree. In fact, in that case, we must keep in mind that the assessment depends on multiple characteristics: not only on the species, but also on the plant context, or the cost/benefit ratio over time.
Nowadays, there are different kind of assessments, developed by expert arboriculturists from all over the world and published in international journals. Among the best known methods:
Swiss: it estimates the value starting from a tree baseline price, and considering its size, its position, its aesthetic value and health conditions; then, it applies a reduction index in case of tree damage;
German: more articulated method compared to the Swiss one, because it reduces the value of the tree according to age, environmental context and phytosanitary conditions;
American: it gives a starting value based on the replacement cost and then it takes into account species, health conditions and position;
Australian: the evaluation follows the American method, but it considers the plant’s life expectancy, location and health status too;
English: that kink of assessment has been designed to give public institutions a professional method for the economic evaluation of a tree.
However, none of these methods takes into account the economic value of a tree for its climatic and environmental performance… and it is exactly one of the LIFE Clivut project goals!