The Importance of Trees

March 2015

Toronto has a staggering 10 million trees of at least 116 different species. This urban forest, which covers about 30% of our city, is more than just a nice view. It plays an important and often unrecognized role in our daily lives. The urban forest affects our health, pocketbook and overall quality of life.

Urban Forests: The Value of Trees in the City of Toronto is a Special Report put out by TD Bank that identifies the importance of our urban forest. This publication coincided with a bank sponsored charity event held by the Toronto Parks and Tree Foundation. The event was to raise awareness of Toronto’s trees, which are recovering from the December ice storm of 14 months ago.

Toronto’s urban forest is an important part of our infrastructure. Maintaining this urban forest provides five significant benefits;

  • The urban forest reduces soil erosion and absorbs rain. This reduces the strain on our infrastructure from wet weather. The urban forest keeps rainwater out of our sewers and reduces the need to expand our sewer system.
  • Air quality is improved when air pollutants are absorbed, removed and avoided by street trees which also produce oxygen. The urban forest is estimated to remove about 25% of annual emissions produced by industry in Toronto.
  • Shading and climate  moderation from the urban forest result in energy savings.
  • Removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere is believed to mitigate or delay global warming to avoid dangerous climate changes.
  • Energy emission abatement meaning that carbon emissions from fossil fuel power generation are avoided through climate moderation.

The report calculates the value of Toronto’s urban forest to be over $80 million or about $8 per tree. Benefits include cost savings from reduced energy use and reduced water mitigation remedies for homes. For an average single family household this saving is about $125 per year.

The report says that up to 10 per cent of our urban forest is at risk from disease and insects. Given the importance of the urban forest, the report quantifies how we benefit from it and encourages us to do whatever we can to maintain its health.

Click here to access Urban Forests: The Value of Trees in the City.

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