Can we do more with trees in streets?

This street in Melbourne’s Sunshine West (first exhibit) would look a lot more attractive if it had trees like this street in Melbourne’s north-east.

Some residents and local authorities think trees are too much trouble. They require attention to get started and are vulnerable to vandalism in their early years. Their roots interfere with services and foundations; their branches snag power lines; and their leaves, bark and seeds clog gutters.

Certain species drop death-sized branches from time to time. Natives perform well in drought conditions but block sunlight to houses in winter. In established areas with narrow streets new plantings will sometimes be at the expense of parking spaces.

However the benefits of trees far exceed their cost. Urban designer Dan Burden reckons it costs between $250 and $600 in the US to establish a tree over three years, but the direct benefits over its lifetime exceed $90,000 (excluding aesthetic benefits).

The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation estimates each mature tree removes around half a tonne of carbon dioxide and about 100 kg of pollutants from the air each year. Trees can lower home and vehicle cooling costs, improve residential amenity, and increase property values — via

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