what it is and why it's good
Urban Forest: what is this forest that you spend most of your life
in, and why is it good for you?
by Leslie Keedy
Forest and Tree Home,
Shrubs of California
by John Stuart and John Sawyer.
An accessible field guide to California's native tree species and most of its common shrub species.
Illustrated by over 100 line drawings, 300 range maps, and 40 color photographs.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees: Western Region
by Elbert L. Little.
(Great photos of leaf, flower, and fruit, plus
informative text guide you through over 300 native
tree species west of the Rocky Mountains.)
What exactly is "the urban forest"? Is your shade tree part of it? What are
eleven ways the urban forest benefits your health, both physical and emotional?
And what are the six other types of benefit - including work benefits - of the
What the Urban Forest Is.
The urban forest includes all trees and shrubs growing on both public and
private property within a City. Park trees, street trees, and the trees growing
around private homes and around businesses create our urban forest.
Differences between an urban forest and a natural forest are:
- The constant presence of people in the urban forest.
- The variety of trees in an urban forest, which often includes a greater
variety of trees than a natural forest.
- The presence of some trees that are not native to the local area (though
they may be native to the state or the country).
- The altered environment in the urban setting, including possibly
irrigation and locally increased temperatures.
How does an Urban Forest Benefit You?
- Strategically placed shade treed can reduce heating and cooling expenses
by 10% to 50%.
- A single mature tree provides the cooling equivalent of five average air
conditioners running 12 hours per day.
- Trees reduce city temperatures 3ºF to 10"F.
The urban forest:
- Protects your skin from cancer-causing sun rays.
- Protects your eyes from cataract-inducing sun rays.
- Protects your eyes from sun glare.
- Filters air contaminants and cleans the air.
- Improves privacy.
- Creates a sense of relaxation and well-being.
- Reduces noise pollution.
- Softens harsh urban views.
- Adds beauty and natural character to your city.
- Replenishes our atmosphere with oxygen.
- Absorbs CO2 (up to 50 pounds per year is removed by a healthy
tree) and dangerous gasses.
Financially, trees are a major
capital asset to almost everyone, either directly or indirectly, because they
are an asset to our property owners and to our cities. In an urban setting,
trees are 14 times more valuable than their forest counterparts. They:
- Increase property values.
- Can increase prices in a tree-lined street up to 25% higher than in a
comparable but barren street.
- Cause offices and apartments with trees to be rented quickly and for more
money than comparable facilities without trees.
See also Urban tree benefits: Your Bottom Line
- Trees help provide jobs in their care and maintenance (i.e., provide jobs
- Tree-lined streets attract people, businesses, and tourists (i.e., provide
Water-Conservation and Erosion-Reduction Benefits.
Trees increase recharging of groundwater; this compensates for
some of the loss due to urban paving. Also, trees cause these reductions:
- Reduced surface water runoff from storms.
- Reduced ocean pollution by reducing grease and oil transported to streams.
- Reduced soil erosion.
- Reduced sediments in streams.
- Reduced need for water by plants at their feet (due to shade).
- An urban forest provides habitat and food for birds and animals of the
- An urban forest creates ecosystems and protection for plants and animals
that otherwise would not exist in a city, although they could exist in that
area in the absence of the city.
Social and Educational Benefits.
- Trees provide a pleasant location for your relaxation, picnics, and other
- Trees connect you with nature even in an urban setting.
- Both children and adults can learn from nature through the urban trees.
- Community tree planting can unite your neighbors in pride of the
- Cities with beautiful forests -- please name 3 specific cities --- are
Forest and Tree Home,