By Jez Abbott
Scientists are calculating an economic audit of the landscape by balancing its ability to absorb pollution against the cost of air filters and improving healthcare.
The groundbreaking research follows a recent pilot project that found trees and shrubs near busy roads absorbed fine dust particles from the air and ammonia from manure.
“We showed that landscape elements remove pollution,” said biologist Fred Tonneijck, who tested a 1sq km planted area beside a busy main road.
“Society only puts a cost on landscape, but this is wrong. Management should be seen as
an investment because green elements are positive for the environment.”
The senior adviser at Triple E, an environmental consultancy based in Arnhem, Holland, said: “If a tree takes up 100 micrograms of fine dust we will look at the cost of removing the same amount of dust from the air using devices such as air filters.
“We will also look at how many lives you save by reducing the amount of fine dust. Green management in cities and rural areas should be based on cost-benefit analysis and not just cost.”
Conifer needles and rough, sticky deciduous leaves proved the most effective at removing fine dust, Tonneijck said. The initial research found landscape that covered three per cent of the test area, absorbed 10 per cent of dust.
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