Tine NINGAL and Gerald MILLS
Institution: University College Dublin – Ireland
Keywords: urban trees, property prices, environmental-economic benefits, ecosystem, socio-economic, i-Tree Tools, Dublin
Urban trees are gaining increasing attention for their myriad of (environmental, social, economic, health) benefits and services to society, particularly in urbanized areas. Urban areas comprise some of the main sources of air pollution from anthropogenic activities. The versatile and multifunctional benefits of urban trees are attracting interests globally and authorities such as the EU have implemented European-wide forest inventories and issued directives for member states to incorporate urban trees in their national plans. In Ireland, an example is the Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020. Given the known benefits of trees and green infrastructure in cities, gathering data on urban trees into a database system and turning them into useful information for stakeholders is critical. The advances in remote sensing and GIS technologies in collating such data have greatly improved. Due to the harsh conditions in urban environments (restrictions in space, light, water), species selection and their management require careful attention and investment.
To this end, studies on Dublin’s urban trees reveal a divide when it comes to the geography of urban trees. The density and spatial distribution of trees correspond with land use planning and policies by local authorities. There is a general sense that affluent areas and suburbs that are relatively wealthy are endowed with luxuriant vegetation compared to non-affluent areas. Studies confirm that the presence of trees increases property values. Using GIS and remote sensing data on Dublin’s urban trees and data from the property register, the correlation between canopy cover and property prices will be computed. The data on trees will then be used with i-Tree tools to assess the environmental and economic benefits of Dublin’s trees. The outcome will be twofold; first to establish if there is a correlation between tree canopy and affluence across Dublin, and second, to quantify the ecosystem and socio-economic benefits provided by Dublin’s tree using i-Tree and associated tools. This work falls within the Dublin’s 2016-2020 Tree Strategic Plan and the outcome will provide valuable information for multiple stakeholders from local authorities and city planners to property developers, landscape architects, researchers, and the wider public.