Wirral Council has become the first local authority in the region to join a nationwide study that aims to quantify the environmental effects of urban trees and calculate their value to society.
The ‘i-Trees Eco Study’ is being carried out in partnership with Forest Research, Britain’s principal organisation for forestry and tree-related research.
252 survey plots have been chosen at random across Wirral – on both Council-owned and private land – to collect field data. At these plots, a range of information will be collected about the location, including whether the ground is covered with tarmac or grass, what species of tree (if any) is present and how big they are and how healthy they appear to be.
When fed into the i-Trees Eco software, the results will show how much carbon is captured by urban trees, the amount of rainfall they intercept, how much air pollution they filter and what their value is for habitat provision. It will also show any threats posed to the treescape by pests and diseases.
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee for Wirral Council, said, “Most people would agree that having a strong range and significant volume of trees across our more built-up areas is a good thing – they are attractive, provide shade, add to our quality of life and they contribute to reducing air pollution.
“Using the pioneering i-Tree tools, this study aims to quantify their impact more accurately and in Wirral, we are going to be the first ones to also look at their social and cultural value – what they do for people’s health and wellbeing. In this, we will be looking for the help of residents in taking part in the survey that will be launched next month – look out for details.
“We will be using the results of the study to help make more effective management decisions, develop policy and set priorities for Wirral’s treescape going forward.”
i-Trees Eco Study is a UK-wide project that started in 2013 by Forest Research and a number of councils across the UK have already signed up, including Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newport, Southampton and Wrexham. Wirral now joins this list and is the first in the Liverpool City Region and the North West to do this.
More information about the UK-wide scheme is on this website https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/research/i-tree-eco/