Why we need more Urban Trees

Trees have a huge range of benefits within the urban environment – these are just a few:

Healthier lives

By filtering polluted air, reducing chemical smog formation, shading out harmful solar radiation and providing an attractive, calming setting for recreation, trees can have a positive effect on the incidence of asthma, skin cancer and many stress related illnesses.  The positive effects of the green environment, and especially trees, on mental health are now well-documented.  Humans have evolved to live in harmony with the natural environment – when we are deprived of contact with it, our mental and physical health suffer.

A more moderate climate

The shelter and shade from trees can save up to 10% of the energy needed to heat and cool nearby buildings. They also reduce the effects of air pollution and make outdoor spaces much more comfortable. The leaves and twigs slow down the rate at which rainwater hits the ground and this helps to reduce the likelihood of localised flash flooding. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and the carbon that they store in their wood helps to reduce the amount in the atmosphere.

A more successful local economy

Trees help to create jobs and increase productivity and innovation. They encourage inward investment and can increase property values by up to 18%.  Retail areas with trees perform better than those without.

Supporting diverse urban wildlife

Trees play a vital role in the urban ecosystem, by helping to support a great variety of wildlife, which people can enjoy close to home. Birds, insects and animals all need trees to provide food and shelter.

Enhancing landscape quality

Trees and woods can bring out the best in an area’s local character. They provide a sense of long-term stability and a living link between the past, the present and the future. Trees soften the landscape of hard-edged towns and cities, making them greener, more comfortable and more attractive.

Improving difficult land

Tree roots help to bind the soil together and prevent erosion. Some trees can also clean up contaminated land, or absorb ground water to help with drainage. Trees can also be used to create living screens to provide a green and pleasant backdrop to derelict and development sites, and to screen eyesores.

More sustainable communities

The landscape is the place where people meet. When communities play an active part in caring for their local trees and woods, this helps to build more confidence and shared enjoyment. At BTFL we believe it is particularly important to involve children in tree planting to nurture an interest in, and hopefully a love for, the natural environment around them, helping to create a future generation of people who care about, and for, their local environment.


This information was extracted from the publication “Trees Matter!”, produced by the National Urban Forestry Unit (NUFU) in 2005 and edited by Chris Baines.  “Trees Matter!” provided a comprehensive review of the benefits which can come from urban trees and woods. This was supported by reference to scientific research from around the world.

A more recent report introducing England’s Urban Forests and their value can be found here , and a report by TDAG – ‘No Trees, No Future‘, may also be of interest.