Water Sensitive SA

Benefits of trees costed by Melbourne Water

Benefits of trees costed by Melbourne Water

5 September 2022

Living Melbourne: Our metropolitan urban forest – Value analysis of trees on private land, released by Melbourne Water in August 2022, investigates the benefits and costs of protection of trees on private land. Interestingly, the report includes estimates of the montetary value on the avoided stormwater runoff costs derived from trees intercepting rainfall for a range of tree types.

For those interested in science communication, the benefits are summarised in a simple info graphic to help share the outcomes of the report.

Headline benefits and costs of urban trees on private land. Source: Melbourne Water

Discussion on this topic inevitably turns to what models exist for financial incentives for landowners to retain and protect mature trees on their property. The report offers examples of direct investment and financial incentives applied by local government authorities around the world to reverse the downward trend in canopy cover on private land including:

  • tax credits defined by size of tree to preserve trees in local properties (Boone, North Carolina, USA)
  • tax cuts for private residents to maintain their exceptional trees – maximum of $3,000 per tree per year for maintenance, e.g pruning, mulching, etc. (Hawaii, USA)
  • tree retention index calculated via water runoff benefits for new developments, based on reduction of impervious surface or volume (Philadelphia, PA, USA).

To find our more read the full report here.

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