London trees worth £6bn, survey finds

London's eight million trees are worth £6.1 billion to the capital and contribute £130 million in wider benefits, a new survey has calculated.

The iTree urban forest survey used 300 volunteers to analyse and count trees on the ‘services’ they provide from the carbon they store, the pollution they remove, and rainwater they hold. Trees remove 299 tonnes of PM10 and 698 tonnes of NO2 pollution across London annually.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced a new partnership with Unilever which will deliver 40,000 new trees with 20,000 offered to London’s schools and 20,000 to create a new urban woodland in West London. Ealing's King George’s Field is being planted, organised by Trees for Cities.

Johnson said: "London is one of the greenest, leafiest cities on the planet and as this survey proves, our canopy does a ‘tree mendous’ job of lowering pollution, alleviating flood water and boosting our environment. I encourage as many schools as possible to sign up for a great array of free foliage and I look forward to seeing the new Ealing woodland take shape."

Charlotte Carroll, Unilever UK sustainability and communications director, said:  "Trees are one of the most important defences in the fight against climate change and at Unilever we're working on this important issue through our brightFuture movement. We hope this partnership will help Londoners reconnect with their love of trees and we're delighted to be planting 40,000 trees to help create a more sustainable future."

Kate Sheldon, acting chief executive at Trees for Cities said: "This project demonstrates the powerful effect of bringing people together to plant trees. People of all ages love to plant a tree; it is great exercise, great fun, and makes such a difference to community spaces. The trees here in Ealing will help improve local air quality and create new wildlife habitat."

The i-Tree survey, produced by the Mayor of London and The Forestry Commission and sponsored by Unilever, has found in London:

  • storm water alleviation = 3,414,000m3 per annum worth £2.8 million
  • carbon storage = 2,367,000t per annum worth £146.9 million
  • pollution removal = 2241t per annum worth £126.1 million
  • It would cost £6.1bn to replace all of London’s tree canopy

Craig Harrison, Forestry Commission London manager, said: "The i-Tree report tells us how many and what type of trees there are in London – and crucially, proves they deliver huge benefits such as cleaning the air and storing carbon. To ensure future generations receive these benefits and London grows sustainably, we all need to protect existing trees and plant new trees."

For the Love of Trees – London is a Greater London Authority partnership with Unilever UK to deliver 40,000 new trees and support activities relating woodlands. 

London iTree survey is a partnership project including Forestry Commission, Greater London Authority, London Tree Officers Association, Trees for Cities, Tree Council, Natural England and Treeconomics.

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