Do you ever notice how trees always catch your eye? Trees help us find our way, provide shade in the summer, and tell a city's story. Trees seem to create a feeling or memory whether consciously or unconsciously. Which tree carries your most fond memories: a black gum, a maple, or an oak? More importantly, urban trees in areas with high human activity also play an important role in regulating urban ecosystems. By 2050, the proportion of people living in cities is expected to reach 80%. The rapid expansion of cities poses an increasing threat to our urban trees, so we need trees to keep the environment healthy more than ever. How do urban trees help us improve the quality of the environment?
1. Carbon Storage and Sequestration by Urban Trees
By sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in tree tissue, urban trees can help mitigate climate change. Each year, trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in new growth. Trees accumulate carbon as they grow. Upon reaching maturity, a living tree can absorb nearly 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, which is stored in its fibers until it undergoes a physical event that releases it into the atmosphere. The carbon storage of urban trees in the coterminous USA is estimated to be 700 million tonnes ($14,300 million value). The rate of gross carbon sequestration is 22.8 million tC/yr ($460 million/year).
2. Using Urban Trees to Reduce Heat Islands
Natural landscapes such as urban trees and water bodies absorb and reradiate solar heat more efficiently than structures such as buildings and roads. In these densely built urban areas with limited green space, temperatures are warmer than in remote areas. That's why they're called
"heat islands." The heat island effect warms urban areas by 1 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit at night compared to remote areas. As a result of the heat island effect, energy consumption increases, as do air pollution emissions and greenhouse gas emissions, which are harmful to human health and comfort. One of the possible causes of heat islands is the decline of the city's natural landscape. The leaves of plants, the shade of trees, and evaporation from water bodies all help to cool the air. Urban trees, green roofs, and vegetation
can reduce the urban heat island effect by shading building surfaces, deflecting solar radiation, and releasing water into the atmosphere.
3. Energy Conservation Potential of Urban Trees
Did you know that strategically planted trees around your home can substantially reduce your air conditioning needs? Energy conservation is one of the most measurable benefits trees provide. Studies have shown that urban trees can reduce annual heating costs by 10-30%. A mature tree can reduce wind speeds and provide cover for nearby buildings, which can reduce the cost of heating and cooling. As a result, winter heating costs are reduced by decreasing heat loss, and summer cooling costs are reduced by providing shade.
4. Air Pollution Removal by Urban Forests
Many urban areas suffer from poor air quality. Human health can be affected, landscape and ecosystem processes can be damaged, and visibility can be affected. In addition to reducing energy consumption, trees can also reduce air pollutants emitted by buildings. In many cities, air particles have become a major air pollutant as a result of urbanization and industrialization. Among urban ecological constructions, urban forests are the largest and only ones with self-purification functions. They not only provide residents in highly polluted environments with
relatively clean leisure space, but also contribute to air pollution purification. Urban trees remove pollutants directly from the air. By directly absorbing gases and temporarily intercepting airborne particles, urban forests can remove tons of ozone, gaseous air pollution, and particulate matter each year.
There are a number of other environmental benefits associated with urban trees. Climate change mitigation and resilient communities can be achieved with trees. The benefits of trees are numerous and significant, and that's why Canopy Bloomington is committed to sustainably managing and growing this beautiful, valuable resource. Make a donation todayto support the cultivation of a community! With your help, we know we can reach a high tree canopy coverage in Bloomington. If you are interested in ensuring reforestation and protecting urban forests, don’t hesitate to contact us!