Benefits of Urban Trees

The Power of Trees: Changing Our World One Tree at a Time

Trees make our communities healthy, beautiful, and livable. Urban trees provide an immense range of human, environmental, and economic benefits. Below are just a few of the reasons why trees matter to the health and wellbeing of our families, communities, and world!

Download our Power of Trees Flyer to help spread the word about the many benefits of planting and caring for trees in our communities. Want to learn more? See our citations listed at the bottom for research about the benefit of urban trees. We also highly recommend you visit  Green Cities: Good Health Research, a page dedicated to Urban Forestry and Urban Greening Research.

 

Trees Help Our Family

  • Provide shade canopy to encourage outdoor activity
  • Reduce symptoms of asthma and stress, improve physical, emotional, and mental health
  • Filter out the pollutants from the air we breathe
  • Make a positive impact on the dollar value of our property
  • Decrease energy usage and air conditioning needs
  • Give privacy and absorb noise and outdoor sounds
Family playing jump rope on an urban side walk with trees in background

Trees Help Our Community

  • Lower urban air temperature, improving public health during extreme weather events
  • Extend life of roadway pavement via shade
  • Attract retail clientele, increase business revenues and property value
  • Filter and control storm water, lower water treatment costs, remove sediment and chemicals and minimize erosion
  • Reduce crime, including graffiti and vandalism
  • Increase safety for drivers, passengers and pedestrians
  • Help children concentrate and improved ability to learn often increasing academic performance
Urban Freeway with greenery - San Diego and Balboa Park

Trees Help Our World

  • Filter the air and reduce pollution, ozone and smog levels
  • Create oxygen by transforming carbon dioxide and other harmful gases
  • Improve our watershed and drinking water quality
  • Help control erosion and stabilize shorelines

Trees Improve the Air We Breathe

  • Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air by sequestration
  • Trees filter air pollutants, including ozone and particulates
  • Trees produce life supporting oxygen
  • Trees reduce asthma symptoms
  • A 2014 USDA Forest Service research study indicate that trees’ improvement to air quality help humans avoid more than 850 deaths and more than 670,000 instances of acute respiratory symptoms in a given year.
Image of San Francisco with clear skies

Trees Help Store, Clean, Process and Save Water

LA River Image showing trees
  • Trees help keep our waterways clean by reducing storm water run-off and soil erosion
  • Trees filter chemicals and other pollutants from water and soil
  • Trees intercept rainfall, which protects against flash flooding and recharges groundwater supplies
  • Trees need less water than lawns, and the moisture they release into the air can significantly reduce the water requirements of other landscape plants
  • Trees help control erosion and stabilize mountains and shorelines

 

Trees Conserve Energy Making our Buildings, Systems and Properties More Efficient

  • Trees mitigate the urban heat island effects by providing shading, reducing interior temperatures by up to 10 degrees
  • Trees provide shade, moisture and windbreaks, decreasing the amount of energy needed to cool and heat our homes and offices
  • Trees on residential properties can reduce heating and cooling costs by 8 – 12%

 

Tree shading a home and street

Trees Improve Mental and Physical Health for People of All Ages

Two people walking in a beautiful urban forest
  • Trees create a desirable environment for outdoor physical activity and encourage active lifestyles
  • Trees reduce symptoms or incidences of attention and hypertension disorder (ADHD), asthma, and stress
  • Trees reduce exposure to UV radiation thus reducing skin cancer
  • Tree views can speed the recovery from medical procedures
  • Trees produce fruit and nuts to contribute to a healthy diet for people and wildlife
  • Trees create a setting for neighbors to interact, strengthen social ties, and create more peaceful and less violent communities
  • Trees contribute to the overall physical, mental and social well-being of individuals and communities
  • Tree canopy cover lower healthcare costs, see the “Dollars Grow on Trees” Northern California Study for more details
  • See Green Cities: Good Health Research for more details

 

Trees Make Communities Safer and More Valuable

  • Increase safety for drivers, passengers and pedestrians
  • Reduce crime, including graffiti and vandalism
  • Trees can increase residential property by 10% or more
  • Trees can attract new businesses and residents
  • Trees can boost business and tourism in commercial areas by providing shadier and more inviting walkways and parking lots
  • Commercial and shopping districts with trees and vegetation have higher economic activity, customers stay longer, came from further distances, and spend more money compared to non-vegetated shopping districts
  • Trees lower urban air temperature reducing heat related illness and deaths during extreme heat events

 

People sitting walking and exploring a park with trees

Trees Create Employment Opportunities

  • As of 2010, the urban and community forestry sectors in California generated $3.29 billion in revenues and added $3.899 billion in value to the state’s economy
  • Urban Forestry in California supports an estimated 60,000+ jobs in the state.
  • There are more than 50 million sites available for planting new trees and approximately 180 million trees in need of care in California’s cities and towns. With plenty of work to be done, California can continue job creation and economic growth by investing in urban and community forests today.
  • Urban forestry projects provide critical training to young adults and at-risk youth along with opportunities in the public works sector. Additionally, urban forestry care and management create both public and private sector jobs while creating a healthier, cleaner, and more livable environment for decades to come.
  • See the economic value of trees on CAL FIRE’s Urban Forestry Economic Impacts Fact Sheet.
  • Check out 50 Careers in Trees developed by the Tree Foundation of Kern

 

 

Citations and Studies

Nowak, David, Robert Hoehn III, Daniel, Crane, Jack Stevens and Jeffrey Walton. “Assessing Urban Forest Effects and Values Washington, D.C.’s Urban Forest.” USDA Forest Service. (2006). Web. <http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/rb/nrs_rb001.pdf>

Ulrich, Roger S. “The Value of Trees to a Community” Arbor Day Foundation. Web. 27 June 2011. <http://www.arborday.org/trees/benefits.cfm>.

McPherson, Gregory, James Simpson, Paula Peper, Shelley Gardner, Kelaine Vargas, Scott Maco, and Qingfu Xiao. “Coastal Plain Community Tree Guide: Benefits, Costs, and Strategic Planting.” USDA, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. (2006). Web. <http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/uesd/uep/products/2/cufr_679_gtr201_coastal_tree_guide.
pdf>

Anderson, L.M., and H.K. Cordell. “Influence of Trees on Residential Property Values in Athens, Georgia (U.S.A.): A Survey Based on Actual Sales Prices.” Landscape and Urban Planning 15.1-2 (1988): 153-64. Web. <http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/ja/ja_anderson003.pdf>.

University of Washington, College of Forest Resources. Urban Forest Values: Economic Benefits of Trees in Cities. Rep. Center for Human Horticulture, 1998. Web. <http://www.cfr.washington.edu/research/factSheets/29-UrbEconBen.pdf>.

NJ Forest Service. “Benefits of trees: trees enrich the health and quality of our environment”. NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Web. <http://www.state.nj.us/dep/seeds/docs/bot.pdf>

Dixon, Karin K., and Kathleen L. Wolf. “Benefits and Risks of Urban Roadside Landscape: Finding a Livable, Balanced Response.” 3rd Urban Street Symposium, Seattle, Washington. 2007. Web. <http://www.urbanstreet.info/3rd_symp_proceedings/Benefits%20and%20Risks.pdf>.

McPherson, Gegory, and Jules Muchnick. “Effects of Street Tree Shade on Asphalt and Concrete Pavement Performance.” Journal of Arboriculture 31.6 (2005): 303-10. Web. <http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/mcpherson/psw_2005_mcpherson001_joa_1105.pdf>.

McPherson, E. G., & R. A. Rowntree. 1993. “Energy Conservation Potential of Urban Tree Planting.” Journal of Arboriculture 19(6):321-331.<http://www.actrees.org/files/Research/mcpherson_energy_conservation.pdf>

Fazio, Dr. James R. “How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff.” Tree City USA Bulletin 55. Arbor Day Foundation. Web. <http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/uesd/uep/products/11/800TreeCityUSABulletin_55.pdf>.

Kuo, Frances, and William Sullivan. “Environment and Crime in the Inner City: Does Vegetation Reduce Crime?” Environment and Behavior 33.3 (2001). Web. <http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/EnvironmentAndCrime.pdf>

Sinha, Paramita; Coville, Robert C.; Hirabayashi, Satoshi; Lim, Brian; Endreny, Theodore A.; Nowak, David J. 2022. Variation in estimates of heat-related mortality reduction due to tree cover in U.S. cities. Journal of Environmental Management. 301(1): 113751. 13 p. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113751.

Wolf, K. L. 2005. “Business District Streetscapes, Trees and Consumer Response.” Journal of Forestry 103(8):396-400. <https://www.fs.usda.gov/pnw/pubs/journals/pnw_2005_wolf001.pdf>

Mok, Jeong-Hun, Harlow C. Landphair, and Jody R. Naderi. “Landscape Improvement Impacts on Roadside Safety in Texas.” Landscape and Urban Planning 78.3 (2006): 263-74. Web. <http://www.naturewithin.info/Roadside/RdsdSftyTexas_L&UP.pdf>.

Taylor, Andrea, Frances Kuo, and Williams Sullivan. “Coping with ADD the Surprising Connection to Green Play Settings.” Environment and Behavior (2001). Web. <http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/CopingWithADD.pdf>.

Van Den Eeden, Stephen K., Matthew H.E.M. Browning, Douglas A. Becker, Jun Shan, Stacey E. Alexeeff, G. Thomas Ray, Charles P. Quesenberry, Ming Kuo.
“Association between residential green cover and direct healthcare costs in Northern California: An individual level analysis of 5 million persons”
Environment International 163 (2022) 107174.  <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412022001003>.

Armson, D., P. Stringer, & A.R. Ennos. 2012. “The Effect of Tree Shade and Grass on Surface and Globe Temperatures in an Urban Area.” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 11(1):41-49.

 

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