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Babergh and Mid Suffolk: Tree canopy

Category: Environment
Published: 21 February 2023

Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils: Tree canopy survey and tree planting strategy

The project

The councils commissioned a satellite tree canopy survey which identified and mapped existing tree cover and habitat networks. The aim is to identify areas where biodiversity is thriving and those areas where it could be strengthened. This research is feeding into the councils’ Tree Planting Strategy, which covers the next five years.

The benefits

Babergh and Mid Suffolk are among the first UK rural authorities to undertake such a satellite tree canopy survey. The work has resulted in a map showing every tree over three metres in height, giving ward level detail, and is being used to determine where best to plant trees in future. The data allows the councils to calculate the environmental benefits provided by the trees, including the amount of carbon stored, how much carbon is captured annually, the level of stormwater reduction and how much pollution is removed by the trees.  It also allows the councils to assess threats to trees, such as ash dieback, enabling them to identify how many trees may need to be replaced in future.

Among the revelations so far are:

  • Trees on public land prevent an estimated 4.85 million cubic metres of water entering the sewerage and draining systems – enough to fill nearly 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • The amount of PM2.5 (particulate matter) removed from the atmosphere by the area’s trees is the equivalent of the annual emissions from 3.5 million diesel cars.
  • When measured in tangible economic terms the trees have an annual benefit of £63.6 million. Meanwhile, their amenity value as public assets is calculated as £99 million in Babergh and £32.4 million in Mid Suffolk.

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