For a Better Brisbane

The value of trees & green spaces 1

If the cost to save this fig tree is at least $1.6 million, this would suggest that there is at least $36.8 million worth of tree in Orleigh Park (see notes and disclaimer).

The people of Brisbane value their parks and green spaces. They like the feeling of open space, the greenery, the enjoyment that comes from relaxing or having a weekend BBQ in one. A large part of this is to do with trees in parks, their shade and beauty. These values are qualitative, in the sense that they can’t really answer questions like:

  • How much money should someone be fined if they cut down or poison a tree?
  • If a tree needs to be removed, how much should be spent on new trees or compensation?
  • How much should be spent on saving a tree, or would it be better to just get new ones?

This post is timely. Yesterday, an article coincidentally appeared in the Brisbanetimes about the removal of sixteen trees from the riverside park at West End. This isn’t the first time large, leafy, established trees have been cut down. A 200-year old Crow’s Ash tree at Lutwyche had to be cut down in July 2010 due to the Airport Link Road tunnel project; The Courier Mail reported that this resulted in a $100 000 compensation paid to the Brisbane City Council. The Gap Creek road widening also resulted in the cutting down of trees (reportedly to be replaced).

Trees are valued by the community, and are therefore community assets. It’s well known that people value leafy green suburbs over barren concrete ones. This line of thought also applies to park lands, green spaces and areas with heritage homes, and sets a foundation for the ongoing protection of these assets or compensation where they are removed.

A number of valuation methods are in use:

  • The “CLTA Method”
  • Revised burnley method (Developed in Melbourne, Australia)
  • Amenity valuation of trees and woodlands method
  • STEM: Standard Tree Evaluation Method (NZ)
  • Norma Granada (Spain)

These methods all take different approaches, and each is popular in different countries, but they generally all rely on what species the tree is, what the condition, age, trunk size and other special features are (such as historical or cultural significance). A more detailed explanation and valuation formulate is here. Valuations should be done by a professional, a good place to start is the National Arborists Association of Australia.

Armed with better, justified and quantifiable, information about the economic, environmental and urban development values of trees and green spaces, hopefully more people will realise how these natural assets should be protected, how their presence improves the urban environment and nearby housing, and just how much compensation or value of remedial action the community should ask for when trees are cut down or removed in their local area.

Notes and disclaimer:
Valuations should always be done by a professional. The BrisUrbane blog’s caption comment is based on the Brisbane City Council forking out $1.6 million to buy a house in order to save the fig tree(s) pictured as part of the construction of a bus turning circle for the CityGlider high frequency bus service, and the principle that something can be valued by seeing how much someone will pay to save it. The BrisUrbane Blog’s strictly non-professional estimate is based on 23 similar fig trees present in Orleigh park.


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July 3, 2010 at 12:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. In addition to the “we just like them” community view about heritage homes, there also appears to be an economic case for the preservation of heritage homes, on similar grounds to the case for protecting trees like the one pictured.

    Also, it may be possible to remove a house and sell it separately to the land. This might be a viable second best solution where keeping the home on site is not possible. As an example, in Queensland, see the URL below:


    July 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

  2. There’s another issue at play here. It disgusts me to think that the Council paid $1.6million of RATE PAYERS money for that house on the corner of Orleigh Street, and then removed it overnight, breaking it’s own laws to protect character houses, and breaking a promise to the locals for it to be used for community purposes.

    This now allows the owner of the adjacent two properties to remove the same type of houses in order to put up high rise apartments. No wonder people are fed up with this regime!


    July 4, 2010 at 12:22 pm

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