The Value of Planting Trees in the Urban Setting

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There is currently a rapid rate of urbanization taking place across the world. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 34 percent of the world’s population will be living in rural environments and 66 percent will be living in urban environments (UN 2014). With urbanization comes an increase of industry, burning of fossil fuels, manmade infrastructure, and human-generated waste. These activities as well as other environmental changes that come with urbanization create a unique living space that can often be detrimental to human health (Bolund et al. 1999). For example, due to the increase of industry and automobile use, urban air carries more particulate pollution than rural air. The concentrated presence of particulate air pollution has been linked to respiratory problems (Gomez-Baggethun and Barton 2013). With the increasing rate of urbanization the ecosystem services provided by nature are needed more than ever. Ecosystem services provided by urban trees, such as mitigating air pollution, moderating urban microclimates, combating global warming, and improving urban hydrology are important in mitigating the environmental effects of urbanization (Armson et al. 2013, Beckett et al 1998, Bolund and Hunhammar 1999, Dwyer et al. 1991, Georgi et al. 2006, Gomez-Baggethun and Barton 2013). This paper aims to explore the benefits of ecosystem services provided by trees in the urban environment, including street trees, parks, lawn trees in residential areas, as well as urban forests and woodlands. The cultural benefits of urban trees will also be described.


Final project for PLSC480: Urban Ecology, Management of Urban Forest Edges (Spring 2016). Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park.