I thought there were some things we couldn't put a price on. Like the inarticulable pleasure the shade of a tree provides. But a group in the UK has come up with just such an idea -- the rather stodgily named Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT). In a world that seems to understand the need to preserve something only if it has cash value, the London Tree Officers' Association may have hit on something big.
According to a report in the Independent, the system "assesses a tree's worth, according to its size, health, historical significance and how many people live near to enjoy it". And the results are enough to make a busy central London investment banker stop and stare. Many a leafy bough is worth thousands of pounds, while some of the more sprawling trees standing at key locations in the city are now tagged at £500,000, with the most expensive being priced at a whopping £750,000 (not far short of US$1.5 million). No, that ain't a single nought too many.
The hope is that the 'value' now placed on these trees will make it harder to take the decision to fell them. London has suffered much in recent years from a spate of reckless tree felling, spurred by often unsubstantiated fears about their stability. The net worth of the capital's trees is now estimated at a whopping £4.2 billion, enough to stop any axe mid-air.
The CAVAT is now being tested in London and may be rolled out in other cities later in the year. Not a moment too soon for many an ancient shade, I'm sure.