June 24, 2019

Urban Tree Canopy

Urban tree canopy (UTC) is the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. In urban areas, the UTC provides an important stormwater management function by intercepting rainfall that would otherwise run off of paved surfaces and be transported into local waters though the storm drainage system, picking up various pollutants along the way. UTC also reduces the urban heat island effect, reduces heating/cooling costs, lowers air temperatures, reduces air pollution, increases property values, provides wildlife habitat, and provides aesthetic and community benefits such as improved quality of life.

Public Health and Social Benefits 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 clean air requirements. Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, and 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.

Environmental Benefits Trees sequester carbon (CO2), reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A tree is also 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.

Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs 10-15%; while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs 20-50%. Urban forests promote beneficial water quality and reduce storm water management costs.

Trees capture and slow rainfall and their roots filter water and recharge the aquifer. Trees reduce storm water runoff, which reduces flooding and saves city storm water management costs. Trees also provide important habitats for numerous bird, insect and animal species.

Economic Benefits 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 than homes without trees. -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.

Trees can also provide inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation such as playgrounds and parks along with creating a tapestry of color and interesting form that changes throughout the year. Did you know that trees can also absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40 percent and can even relieve eye strain because green is a calming color?

Trees in general provide a large number of benefits that we directly experience and thrive off of. They are a vital part of our ecosystem and need to be cared for properly so we can ensure that future generations are also able to enjoy the trees and their numerous benefits.

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