Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
Urban trees provide numerous environmental benefits such as mitigating air pollution and greenhouse gases, reducing stormwater runoff and improving water quality, and decreasing the urban heat island effect. Municipalities can safely integrate trees into vehicular traffic corridors and use trees to provide ecological and other services.
Research has shown that trees and greenspace also enhance the local economy and provide health and social benefits. Studies across various-sized U.S. cities have found that shoppers respond well to trees, especially mature ones, in downtown business districts. Trees encourage repeat visits and some shoppers are will to pay up to 12% more for goods sold in a forested urban retail area. With regards to health, trees and greenspace encourage people to be more active and have a positive impact on children’s psychological development. Sustainability Officers interested in understanding the links between urban forests and economic development, traffic safety, and community health can review the information posted on the University of Washington Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening website, which includes:
- Details of a national research program on the economic benefits of urban trees and forests
- A guideline for planning, planting, and managing trees in business districts
- Public responses to various landscape designs of urban strip shopping centers
- Details on urban trees and traffic safety
- Suggestions, based on human perception studies, on how municipalities can better design and use the space underneath bridges and freeway overpasses
- A review of several cities’ laws that require landscaping and trees in parking lots
- The link between trees/nature and increased physical activity, mental health, and social benefits
- Details regarding the valuation of the human and ecological services provided by urban forests
The information contained on the Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening website presents, among other things, statistics that can be useful for a Sustainability Officer seeking to make the case for investments in urban forests.Water from precipitation that flows over nonporous surfaces into sewer systems or receiving water bodies.The absorption of heat by dark, non-reflective hardscapes (including pavement and buildings) and its radiation to surrounding areas. A problem in urban areas, the effect is exacerbated by vehicle exhaust, air-conditioners, and street equipment.Greenhouse gases are a part of the Earth's atmosphere and are both naturally occurring and the result of human chemical processes. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluourocarbons. These gases trap heat and thus contribute to the warming of the planet. See also CFCS and GREENHOUSE EFFECT.