Business attitudes towards funding ecosystem services provided by urban forests
31st January 2019
Urban trees and woodlands provide a wide range of benefits to society, for example, moderation of urban heat islands, and improved mental health and wellbeing. Despite this, local government budgets for tree planting and maintenance have declined in many cities throughout the world. This study aimed to find out whether businesses are willing to finance tree planting via a payments for ecosystem services (PES) scheme. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 30 businesses of varying sizes and sectors, operating in Southampton, UK. Respondents thought a public-private partnership would be feasible, with a focus on voluntary payments towards enhancing air quality, reducing flood risk, and improving aesthetics. Respondents would prefer to choose from a list of location-specific, cost-effective, monitored projects to fund directly, for marketing and/or corporate social responsibility purposes. To facilitate business funding of urban green infrastructure, clear communication of the expected environmental benefits and a strong business case are required, drawing on the experience of similar initiatives. From our findings, we recommend the piloting and analysis of such PES schemes.