Economic value of trees in Harewood House

water@leeds members Dr. Julie Peacock and Dr. Karen Bacon recently published an article in PeerJ showing how the trees of stately homes such as the Harewood House could provide value in terms of carbon storage, runoff prevention, and pollution removal along with additional benefits to biodiversity and human health.

Julie Peacock in the Parkland at Harewood. Photo credit: C. Scott Watson

According to the authors, previous research has shown the economic value and ecosystem service value of trees in urban environments. However, one land-use type that is missing in ecosystem service literature is the estates of stately homes.  Considering the ecosystem services of stately homes and their estates has multiple potential benefits, including, raising the profile of the ecosystem service benefits of trees to the visiting public, providing a clear justification for the cost of maintaining the gardens.

The 400-hectare estate of Harewood House in North Yorkshire represents an ideal example of such a stately home with a mixture of parkland and more formally planted gardens. Dr Karen Bacon explains that this is the first research of its kind in exploring the economic and ecosystem benefits of the trees in stately homes.

Joey Ting, Measuring Trees. Photo credit: Julie Peacock

The trees in the two types of garden examined were analysed for height, diameter at breast height and light exposure, by University of Alberta summer student, Joey Ting. The data were then processed in iTrees software to generate economic benefits for each tree in both gardens. The analysis found that the larger North Front parkland garden had greater total benefits but the more densely planted formal West Garden had the greater per hectare value. In total, the trees on Harewood House estate are estimated to provide approximately £29 million in ecosystem service benefits. The value of both individual trees and garden types should be considered in future planning and management of such estates.