The Urban Forest
The urban forest can be referred to as a patchwork of green infrastructure growing in our urban areas. This patchwork includes trees that grow in park and ravine systems, that are the centerpiece of our yards, that line our boulevards, and even grace our green roofs. In addition, the urban forest includes an understorey of shrubs, perennials, and soil that supports the interdependent ecological system trees require to mature successfully.
Proper planning, care and maintenance are key to urban forest success. Unlike the trees that grow in a wild setting, urban trees constantly face harsh conditions and a limited environment. Both of these general stressors can be detrimental to their overall health and growing potential. Prevention and long-term care are often paramount in mitigating these stressors so that our urban trees are able to provide us with the benefits they offer.
Benefits of the Urban Forest
Natural surroundings provide relief from the heat, concrete and noise of the city, improving our overall physical and psychological health. These benefits become even more pronounced in the middle of Ontario’s urban environments. More specifically, the urban forest…
- Improves air quality by trapping pollution particles that cause breathing problems
- Absorbs carbon dioxide and other gases and in return provides us with oxygen
- Reduces air temperature when water evaporates from the leaves
- Intercepts rainfall resulting in reduced storm water runoff and improved water quality
- Provides much-needed wildlife habitat
- Reduces noise pollution by acting as a sound barrier
In addition, urban trees can increase property values by up to 30% while decreasing residential heating costs by up to 10% and cooling costs by up to 40% when strategically planted.
Many studies have also shown that well-treed communities not only have improved air quality, but improved relationships between family, friends and neighbours. Tree care and planting projects also bring neighbours together around a common goal that improves their neighbourhood.