Thursday, May 27, 2010

Putting A $ Value On Local Green Infrastructure

For those who won’t or can’t afford time to read and that unfortunately includes many of the people on which we rely in both business and government, let me very briefly sum up the 16 page valuation of Char/Meck’s rapidly declining tree canopy.

Actually I take that back, this tiny summation is for those of you who will try to at least skim read these 372 words and need to stick the information it in front of some people who should.3614989898_7e2caa26d6_o

It is only appropriate as Durham volunteers including 100 Durham visitors took time this week to clean up one of our preserves in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

“ page 8 - The six year period [2002-2008] shows that tree canopy continued to decline in both the City and County. Charlotte lost 3,231 acres of trees, a 2% decline and Mecklenburg County lost 9,475 acres of trees, a 3% decline over this six year period.

If no action is taken to reverse this trend, and the rate of landcover change continues, projections to 2015 show that Mecklenburg County will lose an additional 20,500 acres of tree canopy and Charlotte will lose an additional 7,000 acres of tree canopy.”

But below (chart shown below midway down, page 10) is what an increase of just 5% in tree canopy can mean.  In terms of removing air pollution, storing and securing carbon and reducing storm water runoff, an increase of 5% in tree canopy would represent $470 million.


Don’t worry, the study isn’t about curbing development but about making development smarter and putting a value on future costs as well as benefit.  It does have a proposal for a “tree fee” that only makes good sense.  If a development chooses to take out trees but not replace them, it can pay a fee to have new ones planted elsewhere.  The study also gives values that can be used to net out one-sided feasibility studies about zoning changes etc.

Who knows, it may help lenders put a value on yard and street trees that too often get mowed down by owners of existing homes with no thought of what it may be doing to the community or the planet.

Yup, I’m a tree-hugger but its not just about aesthetics.

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