Branching out into health and wealth

Value: Streets with tree canopies tend to have higher median house prices.
Value: Streets with tree canopies tend to have higher median house prices.

When you think about the places you would prefer to live, compared to the areas you wouldn't, does the number of trees in each place come into your decision?

You may not be aware of it, but trees add value to many parts of our life, and make spaces much more liveable, literally.

Planet Ark's 2019 tree report said that extreme heat is the most dangerous climate change impact facing all Australians, with heat stress now accounting for more deaths than cyclones, floods, bushfires and storms combined.

The report said that "researchers have found that green infrastructure, such as street trees and parkland, can significantly reduce direct and ambient temperatures in the urban environment, which will be crucial in a warming world. Just a 5 per cent increase in tree cover can reduce daytime temperatures by as much as 2.3°C.

"Poorer suburbs are often dense with much lower levels of greenery, and residents consequently suffer more heat stress than people living in areas with a greater concentration of green spaces. In essence, thermal inequity describes the concentration of poorer people in hotter places," according to the report.

There are also health benefits of being surrounded by trees. A large healthy tree can sequester up to 93kg of CO2 and 1.4kg of air pollution a year, and studies have shown that time spent in green outdoor spaces can lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as reduce stress, improves happiness, wellbeing and productivity.

Being green: Research shows employees who work in offices near green spaces are more productive.

Being green: Research shows employees who work in offices near green spaces are more productive.

There are monetary benefits as well.

Planet Ark reported that there are the significant cost reductions for infrastructure management associated with having nearby tree canopy. Planting trees around buildings can result in huge reductions in energy consumption and, cumulatively, billions of dollars in savings by regulating ambient temperatures around buildings.

It's report said that trees also dramatically reduce the costs of managing stormwater runoff, something of crucial importance with precipitation patterns changing rapidly in the face of climate change. For every 5 per cent of tree cover, storm water runoff is reduced by 2 per cent.

At the same time, greening the environment also increases property values through their aesthetic quality.

Domain.com.au cited Perth-based research which found that a broad-leafed tree located on a street verge in front of a home increases the median property price by about $16,889, and that a study put together by Brisbane City Council found 'leafy' streets, with 50 per cent or more tree cover, added up to $29,000 (5.4 per cent) above the median house sale price.

Perhaps money does grow on trees?