4 Reasons Why Trees are Important for Cityscapes

City parks and streets just wouldn’t be the same without trees. Imagine your favorite local park and think of how different it would look and feel without trees! Trees add more than just simple aesthetic beauty to public spaces, however. They have many practical purposes too. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why trees are important for cityscapes:

1: Cooling

The spreading branches and foliage of large city trees provides a critical benefit. Cities and urban spaces with trees are noticeably and measurably cooler than those that do not. How is this possible?

Artificial surfaces in urban spaces, such as asphalt roads and parking lots, concrete sidewalks, dark building rooftops, and metal structures, are all very good at absorbing heat and solar energy. Without the benefit of shade, these areas absorb a lot of energy and get very hot and remain hot even after the sun has set.

By contrast, natural materials like leaves, grass, dirt, and plants reflect more sunlight than they absorb, making these areas cooler. Infrared imaging shows how areas of cities that have more street trees and other natural fixtures are cooler than those without trees. Poorer cities and neighborhoods often have fewer trees, leading to issues of economic inequality when it comes to comfortable neighborhoods!

A row of Ash Trees in a city neighborhood

2: Shade Protection 

Big spreading trees are a natural source of shade in cities, a huge relief on hot and sunny days. This is especially important in parks, sports fields, other areas where people want to stay cool. Would you rather watch a game at the local park on a hot, sunny day in a big open field, or in a place with a lot of shade trees? Studies have shown that trees are an easy and natural way to cool down cities, and we all know from our own experience how much more comfortable areas with trees are!

3: Value

Think of two identical properties with a nice house, one with trees out front and one without any. Which would you rather live in? Studies have shown that trees help increase property values, and this article shows how valuable ash trees can really be. They create nicer places to live, and make living spaces more comfortable by muffling ambient road noise, blocking wind, and providing shade. Home heating costs in summer will go down due to shade provided by street trees.

Cities with neighborhoods that have lost street trees due to invasive insects like emerald ash borer or Asian longhorned beetle have radically different feels, and properties are less appealing and have lower value. Trees can make such a big difference!

4: Wildlife

Trees also provide shelter and resources to wildlife that call urban settings home. Birds, squirrels, and insects all rely on trees for shelter and as a source of food. Think of the all the squirrels that collect acorns each fall, or the birds that make nests in tree branches, or how trees provide resting places for flocks of birds. Without trees, animals would have a much harder time in these habitats, and urban spaces would be much less interesting – and have less diverse ecosystems!

Trees form an essential part of cityscapes and urban areas, which makes caring for our urban forests very important. Take some time to appreciate all that trees do for our urban landscapes, and commit yourself – and your municipality – to taking care of trees!