Overall, an estimated 1.4 billion kg of air pollutants were removed by woodlands, plants, grasslands and other UK vegetation in 2015, according to a study produced for the UK Natural Capital accounts by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
To put this in context, over five times as much PM2.5 (fine particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, or 3% of the diameter of a human hair) was emitted in the UK in 2015, than was removed by vegetation in 2015.
This pollution removal saved the UK around £1 billion in avoided health damage costs3. It is estimated there were 7,100 fewer lung and heart-related hospital admissions, 27,000 fewer life years lost and 1,900 fewer premature deaths in 2015 as result of nature providing this service.
Trees, in particular, provide a wide range of services and account for most of the volume of air pollutants absorbed by natural vegetation in the UK but can have adverse effects also4.
(an area roughly the same size as a rugby pitch or London’s Trafalgar Square)