Trees can play an essential role in improving the quality of life in towns and cities, says UK report
More Trees, More Good
A study by the Woodland Trust in the United Kingdom says planting more trees has been shown to improve air quality, reduce ambient temperatures and benefit people’s health.
The trend of declining tree cover in many areas needs to be reversed in order to improve access to green spaces in urban areas, the study adds.
The issues outlined in the report included physical and mental health problems, childhood obesity, air pollution, soaring summer temperatures, flash flooding and diminishing wildlife
To learn more, click on Greening the Concrete Jungle to download a 7-page report released on June 30, 2010.
To coincide with the report, the Woodland Trust has also launched a campaign titled ‘More Trees, More Good’.
Greening the Concrete Jungle
“Research gathered over recent years has highlighted the countless essential benefits to people, wildlife and the environment that come from planting trees and creating new woodland habitats. To maximise these the UK needs to plant 20 million native trees per year – but at the moment we’re planting just six million,” stated Clive Anderson, President of the Woodland Trust.
“The simple act of planting trees unleashes a host of benefits: in just 12 years they become beautiful woodland, home to a vast array of wildlife and places where children can play, adults reflect, birds and plant life flourish and communities come together. They lock up carbon, are a natural defence against flooding, provide shelter from the elements and offer a sustainable supply of eco-friendly fuel.”
“Towns and cities tend to put into sharp relief some of the key problems we are facing as a society,” adds lead author Mike Townsend. “So they are a good place to start when try to illustrate just where green spaces can deliver significant improvements for relatively little cost.”
The Woodland Trust estimated that 80% of the United Kingdom population live in urban areas, yet less than 10% of people have access to local woodlands within 500m of their homes.
“If you look back over history, Victorian times saw a real move towards parks and street trees; some of the big street trees that you find in our cities today go back to these times,” explained Woodland Trust conservation policy expert Sian Atkinson.
“What we have seen more recently is that there has been reduction in the number of trees being planted, and there has also been a loss of the lovely Victorian trees with big canopies.”
“We are starting to miss these from our towns and cities, and not enough thought has been given to replacements and to ensuring that there is going to be enough tree cover in the future.”
‘Slow the flow’
The report also highlighted the role urban trees could play in preventing flash floods.
“Hard surfaces in towns and cities have increased in recent years, and we are seeing more flooding. One of the problems is surface water drainage. It has been shown that trees and woods are key to help control this sort of flooding,” stated Sian Atkinson in an interview with BBC News.
“As well as absorbing groundwater, tree canopies help reduce the volume of rainfall hitting the ground and relieve pressure on urban drainage systems.”
She called on civic planners to address the issues highlighted by the report. “This is quite a lot of talk about green infrastructure,” she observed, “and our message is that we hope that trees and woods are a really big part of that.”
Posted June 2010