Tuesday 23 February 2016

The Importance of Urban Trees

Trees are vital to urban streetscapes, bringing life and shade to the area, making it more pleasant for people to live in and offering habitats for wildlife even in the centre of towns.

Recently I was sad to see the beautiful alder trees chopped down outside a demolished building in Edinburgh. When I first knew the building was to be demolished I had just assumed that the developers would leave the trees (they often do after all, when individual buildings are demolished). It was so sad to see the stumps, where once the lovely trees grew, their branches often full of birds. (I'll do a blog specifically on Edinburgh's trees quite soon!)

On a larger scale, the Yorkshire town of Sheffield has been in the news lately for the widespread destruction of its trees by the local council. Local people have got together to save what remain of the local trees, but the extent of the destruction seems excessive, even if there are genuine safety issues around individual trees (disease and old age are genuine concerns for many urban trees). All this in a city whose own local council claim is 'Sheffield's trees and woodlands are an important feature of our landscape, making our city one of the greenest in Europe'.

It's not all bad news though. This article from the Telegraph newspaper extols the virtues of urban trees and outlines some interesting projects in London. In Barnet, local tree officer, Andy Tipping instigated the planting of an avenue of 90 dawn redwood trees along a stretch of the busy Edgware Road. It is just one of 40 potential tree-planting sites identified in the area. Meanwhile in Hackney,  residents become Tree Champions and instigate tree planting in their own streets by canvassing the opinions of their neighbours. After planting, volunteers are appointed as tree carers.

Further afield, Madrid in Spain is planting new trees everywhere, turning vacant ground into mini-parks and covering walls and roofs with plants. 

 Trees offer a full range of benefits to urban areas (sorry about  the formatting of the section below)

- they reduce 'heat island effect' of urban areas
- Their shade cools streets and buildings in summer
  • - They help reduce wind speeds
  • - By providing food and shelter for wildlife they help increase biodiversity

    - Reduce effects of flooding by slowing the rate at which rainfall reaches the ground

    - Help improve polluted ground
    A recent study in Wales has quantified the benefits trees can provide to urban areas, you can find out more here
    As they help us and the environment in so many ways, urban trees should definitely be encouraged and looked after. 
    As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more. 


    Hootin Anni said...

    Oh yes....trees are important. I've always said in the summertime, with the glass mirror-like sided buildings and highrises reflect the sun's rays making the city below all the more HOT. Trees are essential.

    Simon Douglas Thompson said...

    Leave the bally things up - they prevent flooding!

    sage said...

    Amen, trees are important, especially in urban environments. I loved the parks in NYC, but as a city with trees, Pittsburgh can't be beat.

    Sandy said...

    I have noticed the lack of birds since I moved to a suburban area. We have one tree in our yard. Thankfully, goldfinches have nested there for the past two summers.

    For the most part, our area is highly forested. Southern Maine's largest city has a beautiful park called Deering Oaks.

    Magyar said...

    tree leaves
    such cleaner air to breath
    the bus depot

    __Now... is it >leaves< as in leaf, or is it >leaves< as in bestow_? Both_!

    RG said...

    Hurray for the trees. It is the tree planting season here in the soggy Pacific NW and there are many "planting" parties every weekend. I helped with a group to plant 800 teeny-weenies last weekend!!!

    Pietro Brosio said...

    Yes, trees are very important in urban environments, and always so beautiful!

    Blogoratti said...

    Trees certainly hold greater value than most things, and nice of you to remind us of that. Greetings!

    Lowcarb team member said...

    Trees are just so important wherever you live ... can you ever have enough trees?
    They support so much, and are taken for granted by so many.

    Great post, thank you.

    All the best Jan