Benefits of an Urban Forest
Urban forests can help cities adapt to a changing climate, cooling air temperatures and reducing flood risk by absorbing excess rainfall. They also absorb CO2 emissions and filter air pollutants. At the same time, they support birds and wildlife, offer recreational areas, and increase property values. The table below highlights some of the many benefits of urban forests. [ Source: Growing Forests in a City: Case Study ]
Between 1990 and 2018, urban trees removed an average of 2.4 Mt of GHGs per year according to the National Inventory Report. Urban forests also contribute to GHG emission reductions by reducing air conditioning needs in nearby buildings.
Large trees reduce ambient air temperatures with their shade and through evapotranspiration, cooling the air by as much as 1-5 degrees Celsius
Climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of storms and rainfall in some regions. Permeable, natural surfaces allow water to seep into the ground and reduce total amount and slow rate of runoff, reducing the risk that wastewater and stormwater systems overflow. Root systems from trees and shrubs make it easier for water to infiltrate the soil and soak up large quantities of water.
Connected urban forests can provide corridors for plants and animals to move. This is increasingly important as a changing climate leads to shifts in habitat as urban areas expand.
Extreme heat associated with climate change is projected to increase concentration of ground level ozone, and more frequent and intense wildfires will make particulate matter pollution worse in some areas. Trees can help filter airborne particulate matter and absorb ground level ozone and other pollutants.
Green spaces can increase food security and build healthier communities. If urban forests are combined with community gardens, they can provide the opportunity to source healthy food and support lower income families. Indigenous-led green spaces can also provide space to share knowledge and traditions
Urban forests provide opportunities to practice both physical and relaxing activities. The mere presence of greenery is shown to improve mental health, with some doctors now prescribing nature alongside other treatments.