Purdue Landscape Report: Yes, we need trees and here’s why…
Trees have presented as more than just a pretty face as research has indicated that trees are even more valuable for their function as much as their form. Currently, more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in towns and cities. In the Hoosier state, the last census indicated that 72% of our population lives in an urban area and this statistic is increasing annually.
For the most part, the rapid expansion of cities takes place with little consideration to land use planning strategy. The resulting human pressure has highly damaging effects on our urban trees and green spaces. The environmental impacts of climate change are intensified by urbanization such as increased pollution, increased temperatures, and larger demands on infrastructure such as stormwater systems.
Urban trees can help to mitigate some of the negative impacts and social consequences of urban sprawl and make cities more resilient to these changes. These important functions are called ecosystem services. This is the way urban foresters measure the benefits that trees provide other than just their beauty. Ecosystems services are the many benefits that trees and plants provide to the community. They improve our quality of life by providing food, cleaner air and water, regulating temperatures, supporting pollination and providing recreational, health and spiritual benefits.
Here are some easy ways in which urban trees and woodlots contribute to making cities more environmentally sustainable and livable:
These are just a few examples of the functional benefits that trees provide to our everyday life. A community or neighborhood with well-planned and well-managed green infrastructure becomesmore resilient, sustainable and equitable in terms of livelihood improvement, climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction and ecosystems conservation. Throughout their lifetime, trees can thus provide a benefit package worth two to three times more than the investment made in planting and caring for them. Trees aren’t the answer, but they are part of the equation. Planting trees is important, but their maintenance is as equally important.
For more information on urban tree care, visit the Purdue Education Store for tree care tips and suggestions.
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Tree Pruning Essentials, Publication & Video, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching: Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources