The Benefits of Trees
Public Health and Social Benefits
Air Cleaning: Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community's respiratory health. The urban canopy directly contributes to meeting a city's regulatory clear air requirements.
Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, reduces stress while improving the quality of life in our cities and towns.
- Urban landscaping, including trees, helps lower crime rates.
- Studies show that urban vegetation slows heartbeats, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes brain wave patterns.
- Girls with a view of nature and trees at home score higher on tests of self-discipline.
Climate cooling: Trees remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere and lower ambient temperatures.
- A tree is a natural air conditioner. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
- Acting as a natural air-conditioner, Palo Alto’s lush canopy ensures that summer temperatures are at least 6 to 8 degrees lower than in comparable neighborhoods without trees.
- Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs 10-15%; while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs 20-50%.
Water filtration and retention: Urban forests promote water quality and reduce stormwater management costs.
- Palo Alto street and park trees can intercept 135 million gallons of rainwater. Trees capture and slow rainfall and their roots filter water and recharge the aquifer. Trees reduce storm water runoff, which reduces flooding, saves city storm water management costs, decreases the flow of polluted water into the Bay, and protects the banks of the San Francisquito Creek.
Wildlife habitat: Trees provide important habitats for numerous bird, insect and animal species.
Communities and business districts with healthy tree cover attract new residents, industry, and commercial activity.
- Homes landscaped with trees sell more quickly and are worth 5% to 15% more.
- Where the entire street is tree-lined, homes may be worth 25% more.
- Trees enhance economic stability by attracting businesses; people linger and shop longer when trees are present.
- Where a canopy of trees exists, apartments and offices rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate; workers report more productivity and less absenteeism.
Even MORE Tree Benefits
- Trees provide inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation such as playgrounds and parks.
- Trees create a tapestry of color and interesting form that changes throughout the year.
- The color green is calming and relieves eye strain.
- Trees screen unattractive views and soften the harsh outline of masonry, metal, asphalt, steel and glass.
- People walk and jog more on shady streets, which encourages interaction with neighbors and improves the sense of community.
- Trees absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40 percent.
Read Canopy's feature news story about the benefits of urban trees.
International Year of the Forest
Did you know that 2011 is the International Year of the Forest? The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as such to remind us of the relationship between our everyday actions and the health of the forests worldwide. The UN hopes to raise awareness about conservation, sustainable management and sustainable development of forests across the planet.
The official film of the International Year of the Forest was produced for the UN by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It’s a short but effective seven minute film that should be shared with others. While the film does not directly reference urban forests, every mentioned benefit of forests is also true about the urban forests in our cities, towns, and civic centers.
Center For Urban Forestry Research - Pacific Southwest Research Station
Part of UC Davis, the mission of the Center for Urban Forest Research is to demonstrate new ways that trees add value to communities and convert results into financial terms to stimulate more investment in trees.
University of Washington Nature Within
Features research on people's perceptions and behaviors regarding nature in cities.
Urban Forest Ecosystem Institute
Addresses the increasing need for improved management of the urban forests in California. Offers tree selection and care tools.
i-Tree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools.