Today is the second part of my “Plant, baby, plant ” series started last week with agroforestry. We shall delve here on urban forestry and its many advantages. Next week we shall conclude by the Billion Tree Campaign.
As we have seen, planting trees among farming fields and gardens provide many advantages. But what about planting trees in our cities ? With more than half of the world population dwelling in cities nowadays, the question is important.
This will even be more the case in the future as – to the United Nations – 7 out of 10 people are expected to live in cities in 2050.
Luckily, trees can provide as many advantages to urban populations than they can do to rural communities. Here are the five main :
1. Trees act as air conditioning
As climate is warming, this is the first benefit that comes to mind. As the blog maintained by Kaid Benfield at the NRDC reported : ” The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. “
A Seattle newspaper notes that ” A tree that shades walls and windows can reduce the temperature indoors by several degrees. Studies show a 15-degree drop in desert cities such as Phoenix. “
Last but not least, to the USDA Forest Service : “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating.”
2. Trees improve air quality
We all know that trees are absorbing the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide as one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. (source) But did you know that it can also remove nefarious air pollutants such as particulates, ozone and sulfur dioxide ?
Moreover, it also helps decreasing the amount of dust as “ the amount of dust reaching the ground was 27 to 42 percent less under a stand of trees than in an open area. ” (source).
So if you are tired of cleaning your place, start planting !
3. Trees reduce crime
As improbable as it might seem, trees actually reduce crime rates. To a study quoted in Grist :
” In addition to housing squirrels, [trees] also reduce lawless activity. This is the conclusion drawn by a team of researchers who teased apart the relationship between tree canopy and crime in and around Baltimore. “
” They used aggregated crime data from Spotcrime and overlaid it with high-res satellite imagery to conduct probably the largest analysis of its kind to date.”
“According to the study, a 10 percent increase in trees roughly equaled a 12 percent decrease in crime.”
Please refer to the full article for more data on that one.
4. Trees create money
Forget about the say ” Money doesn’t grow on trees “ as it does. If you are selling your house or apartment, please bare in mind that if your garden or street has plenty mature trees it will sell more easily and at a bigger price.
Still according to the NRDC blog : ” A number of studies have shown that real estate agents and home buyers assign between 10 and 23 percent of the value of a residence to the trees on the property “
In the same article, one can read that “for a planting cost of $250-600 (includes first 3 years of maintenance) a single street tree returns over $90,000 of direct benefits (not including aesthetic, social and natural) in the lifetime of the tree.”
You see ? Money does grow on trees after all !
5. Trees are just beautiful
On top of all the aforementioned advantages, trees are just bringing Nature and its beauty on your doorstep. Whether it is a nest full of singing birds or squirrels and even if it is empty of animal shelters, trees are just beautiful and connect us with Nature and the cycle of seasons.
This is why they are decreasing stress, helping patients heal faster and so on and so forth. Here is a picture taken on one of the Cheezburger blogs :
To conclude : I am enjoying as I write those lines the shade of the trees planted in my street and I find them beautiful and a relaxing view. Additionally, having grown up in the countryside I know how awesome trees are.
I wish more people were having this luxury… and I hope you soon will too !
Additional resources :
- Kaid Benfield’s blog at the NRDC ;
- The Arbor Day foundation ;
- The USDA Forest Service ;
- European Forum on Urban Forestry ;
- UN FAO Urban Forestry Community
Updated on May 22nd, 2017.