Benefits of Urban Forests

Benefits of Urban Forests


When I am sitting next to a stream, I feel transformed. Hearing the water, feeling the cool breeze, I feel like I’m in a different world. I love the sensory experience of riding through the urban forest. I notice when I’m on a street with trees that I feel happier than when I’m on a street without trees. And I would widen that
to that I live in a city full of trees. As a forester, when I visit my favorite part of the
city, I feel proud is I’ll get out that I was
able to help to create that environment and keep it healthy and available for the citizens of the city. The urban forest is a link to nature. People in an urban environment need that association with nature. An urban forest is everything you see around you. It’s all of the trees, all of the shrubs, the grasses. It’s where you live. Yes, it’s about trees on streets, in
neighborhoods but it’s also about other green features to a community. What makes it an urban forest is the fact that it is not a natural
environment and that it needs our help to make it sustainable. It’s important now more than ever
on a national scale that we think about preserving and expanding our urban forests. More than eighty percent of the US
population lives in urban areas. We get more dense, we get more people in the same place at the same time. More development, more impervious surface. Cities experience the urban heat island effect. They have issues with stormwater management and issues with air quality. As we get more dense, as we get more congested, our urban trees, which provide essential services, become that much more important. The environmental benefits of having green space in communities are very real. Our urban forests are key to the
sustainability for future generations within a city. They help with pollution control, whether it’s stormwater abatement and runoff, whether it is taking particulates
out of the air. If you’re to plant a tree or advocate for the maintenance of that tree, that tree is going to help you in so many ways. It’s going to increase your property values if your home owner. It could lower your utility bills. It’s going to provide a place for you to sit in the shade and a quality of life for your
neighbors to come together. Your trees in your yard are a critical part of a community of trees. They’re a part of a neighborhood, they’re a part of a city. The health of those trees directly reflects on your own health. In well-forested environment, people are healthier, there is less stress, they are friendlier neighbors, and they provide more in the way of goods and services back to the community. What we do really matters. A tree is a very modest investment in a community and as it grows, it’s the only
asset in the entire city infrastructure that increase in value as it grows. In Baltimore, a study was done by the U.S. Forest Service that showed that we had 2.8
million trees in the city and the replacement value of those trees is $3.4 billion. We estimated that trees in Portland
provide $38 million annually in environmental benefits alone. Benefits such as shading effects, stormwater management, energy reduction, et cetera. For every dollar that we spend on trees, we’re getting back almost four dollars in benefits in return. There’s an economic value to green
spaces, to urban forestry that requires that investment up front to protect it for the long haul. City budgets are shrinking and trees are really easy to neglect. They’ve been the easy thing to cut out of a budget. They kind of stand here on their own but they do need some support. The best way that cities can protect their urban forests is to get the support of the citizens of the city in advocating on behalf of a rich urban tree canopy. The next time you see your mayor, just say, “Hey, I really like the trees in our city” because they hear from a lot of people that want to cut them down. So they need to hear from people that they like them too. The time to act is now because what we’re doing now is going to affect certainly our children’s lives and their children’s lives. Without your support, we are going to lose our financial means to keep the urban forest healthy. Streams don’t speak for themselves, trees can’t speak for themselves. People need to do the talking and to put into words the value that urban forestry has to their lives.

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