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Why are trees important in urban areas?

Posted on: July 8th, 2019

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You may wonder: why are trees important in urban areas?

For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas – towns and cities. This increase has been particularly prevalent in Africa and Asia, with this migration towards urbanisations mainly attributed to higher levels of poverty.

Rapid expansion usually means little to no planning strategies when it comes to land use and inevitably, green spaces are damaged, if not obliterated.

So why do trees in towns and cities matter? Why should we build greener cities? Why are trees important in urban areas?

Why are trees important in urban areas?

Rapid urbanisation comes with many negative environmental and social impacts, including:

  • Increased pollution
  • Increased poverty
  • Increased frequency of extreme climatic events
  • Decrease in availability of food and vital resources such as medical care and education
  • Higher rates of depression and anti-social behaviour

Planting trees in urban areas can help mitigate some of these impacts, enabling towns and cities to be more resilient to the changes urbanisation brings. Here are some of the answers to the question: ‘why are trees important in urban areas?’:

  • Trees make communities liveable. They add beauty, colour, character, shapes, forms and textures. They screen and soften an otherwise sterile landscape of concrete, brick and metal
  • Trees provide plants and animals with the habitat they need to survive, as well as food and protection
  • Certain trees will naturally provide residents with food and nutrition through nuts, fruits and leaves
  • Trees can improve air quality – the average mature tree can absorb up to 150kg of carbon dioxide every year and can filter fine particulates
  • Trees produce oxygen. The average mature leafy tree will produce enough oxygen to enable 10 people to breathe – vital when the oxygen levels in cities tend to be 6% lower than less densely populated areas
  • People who live close to green spaces are more likely to have improved mental and physical health. Access to urban green areas can decrease a person’s blood pressure and stress levels, leading to an overall increase of wellbeing in urban communities
  • If planted correctly, trees can offer much-needed shade and cool the air by up to 8 degrees
  • Mature trees reduce soil erosion and regulate water flow – for example, an evergreen can intercept over 15,000 litres of water every year. As such, trees can prevent floods and reduce the chance of a natural disaster
  • Trees reduce noise pollution by absorbing and blocking sound
  • Planned urban landscapes that include trees can increase nearby property values by up to 20%. Green areas can also attract business and tourism to the area

It is very obvious that trees play a vital part in any urban environment. The issue is that many of the trees you will see in a city are reaching old age and coming to the end of their life cycle. It is imperative that we plant new trees on a regular basis so that they are able to reach maturity – the point at which they become most beneficial.

We hope you found our article ‘Why are trees important in urban areas?’ interesting. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any advice in planning green landscapes or maintaining trees in urban spaces.

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