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South Parish Tree Audit Launched

A unique collaboration between researchers at University College (UCC) and Green Spaces for Health has led to the production of a tree audit for the historic South Parish in Cork city which was launched by the Lord Mayor of Cork City today.

Researchers from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES)/Environmetnal Research Institute at UCC, working with the local community surveyed 1109 trees in total in a project that was completed over two years.

The main findings include:

  • A total of 1109 trees were surveyed representing the vast majority of safely accessible trees in the parish.
  • Lime trees were the most common tree species with 247 trees recorded (representing around 21% of all recorded trees in the parish).
  • The next most common, sycamore, accounted for around 9% of trees recorded.
  • Also common were hornbeam, holly and birch.
  • Based on an analysis of the visual amenity value of the trees alone, it is estimated that the trees in the South Parish could be worth as much as €2,500,000. That’s besides the other major benefits of urban trees – e.g. biodiversity, physical and mental health, cooling the city, increasing tourism, increasing footfall in retail areas, etc.
  • It is estimated that the trees absorb around 15,680 kg of carbon from the atmosphere per year and that the trees store a total of 534,000 kg of carbon.

“This may sound a lot but the average Irish person is responsible for the emission of approximately 13,200 kg of carbon per year. This means we would all need one “South Parish” worth of trees to deal with our emissions. The carbon storage and sequestration role of urban trees is relatively modest. That being said, the multitude of other benefits are enough, on their own, to make the case for urban trees” said Dr Eoin Lettice who was the academic supervisor on the project.

 Cork City needs thousands more trees to offset carbon emissions - Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) October 11, 2021

Much of the work was conducted by undergraduate students at the School of BEES including Grace Wall, Megan Pigott and Kristine Nagornaja along with Green Spaces for Health. The project was conducted under the auspices of CARL (Community Academic Research Links) which foster collaboration between research groups at UCC and local communities who have identified research questions that they want to answer.

Dr Lettice said:

“This model is a win-win that allows undergraduate students to participate in real, community-based research and allows community groups to get answers to questions that are important to them. The project could not have been completed without the huge efforts of the three students involved and the leadership of Maria Young from Green Spaces for Health who originally proposed the project.”

Maria Young, Coordinator of Green Spaces for Health said:

“The audit has been an immense project for us, we have gained a lot of practical experience, the information has influenced our community tree planting schemes, it also prompted us to start a tree nursery in the parish. We have made strong links with the School of BEES and new projects have started between us and other institutions in the area as a result of this initiative”.

“Green Spaces for Health are an Eco Social group with a clear ambition to increase the biodiversity of our city and to protect existing habitats. Trees play a crucial role in this and we would like to see the tree survey extend beyond South Parish. We have over thirty volunteers and we collaborate with many other environmental and community groups across Cork”

The online launch of the South Parish Tree Audit report took place as part of UCC Community Week. More details: