If a tree falls in an urban forest, and it doesn't make a sound, does it have any value?
According to the folks at one of Canada's largest banks, the answer is a resounding "yes."
Beyond more nebulous social and environmental impacts, Toronto's lush canopy of trees are worth about $7 billion to the local economy, TD Bank suggests in a report released Monday.
"Urban forests do more than beautify the scenery," the bank's chief economist Craig Alexander said. "They represent an important investment in environmental condition, human health and the overall quality of life."
The report lays out a number of ways in which the city's trees are paying dividends to residents.
Although it's not intuitive to think of a city of almost three million people being anything like a forest, Alexander notes that there are more than 10 million trees of at least 116 different species crammed inside the city limits. A bird's eye view of the city shows as much as 30 per cent of Toronto's space — more than 190 square kilometres — is covered by trees or shrubbery.
"When you look at an individual tree, the impact that it is having is very modest, but when you add it up in the entire canopy of trees in the city of Toronto and when you think that trees cover 30 per cent of all the square kilometres in the city...., their effects really add up," Alexander said in an interview with CBC's The Lang & O'Leary Exchange.