It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without trees: they’re inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives.
They provide food, building materials, shelter, meeting places and landmarks. Art, music and literature from all over the world are filled with images of trees.
We play in them as children and nurture them as adults. They can be beautiful, mysterious, imposing and nostalgic.
Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this percentage is increasing all the time. Conversely, trees are disappearing from urban environments.
Trees are vital for our wellbeing and that of the cities and towns we live in. Here are five reasons why urban areas need trees:
Trees combat climate change
Excess carbon dioxide builds up in our atmosphere and contributes to climate change. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and store it as carbon whilst releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
UK forests and woodlands remove around 10 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year. But with UK greenhouse gas emissions at around 560 million tonnes per year, we need all the help from trees we can get.
Trees can also help to lower temperatures by providing shade, reflecting sunlight and evaporating water. Urban environments can be up to 9°C warmer than surrounding areas; trees can cool the air by up to 8°C.
Trees improve our health and wellbeing
Trees relieve stress, promote calm and improve mental health. Their beauty and spiritual value are known to have positive effects on our wellbeing.
Studies show that hospital patients with a view of trees from their window recover more quickly and make fewer requests for pain medication.
Trees encourage physical activity: we feel more inclined to walk, run, cycle or play outdoors if we have an attractive green space in which to do it.
Another study found that mortality rates from heart disease and respiratory disease were higher in areas where trees had disappeared from the environment.
Trees provide a habitat for wildlife
Native trees provide a stable ecosystem where wildlife can thrive.
They offer homes, shelter and food for birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, plants, flowers and fungi. A single mature oak can host up to 5,000 different species of invertebrates.
Trees can connect different ecosystems, creating ‘wildlife corridors’ that enhance biodiversity by encouraging animals, birds and insects to migrate and disperse.
Wildlife corridors also improve the resilience of trees against pests and diseases.
Trees clean the air
Trees improve air quality by absorbing pollutant gases like nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone.
They also remove harmful particulates from the air, trapping them in their leaves and bark.
Trees provide economic benefits
It’s a commonly known fact that woodland has a positive impact on property prices. Trees can increase a property’s value by 5-18%, with bigger trees resulting in bigger increases.
Trees in retail and business districts can encourage shoppers to spend more. A study found that people would travel further to visit a retail area with high quality trees, and once there would stay longer.
The study showed that shoppers were willing to pay more to park in a landscaped car park and would spend 9-12% more on goods in a landscaped area.
There are a multitude of reasons why urban areas need trees.
It’s vital we do everything in our power to cultivate them, conserve them and encourage their healthy growth.
If you want any more info about trees in urban areas, or are in need of a tree surgeon in West London, do get in touch.