Trees are amazing, but you don’t have to live in a rural area or visit a park to appreciate them. Even in our towns and cities, trees bring so many environmental, social, health, and economic benefits.
Just one tree can have an impact on a street – it’s noticeable from the day it’s planted and brings all sorts of benefits as it grows, throughout the entirety of its lifespan.
From day 1 – the immediate benefits
At the time of planting, the sponsored trees planted through this scheme are already 3-4m tall, so they make an immediate impact!
The street looks better right away, particularly if there was no previous tree cover.
Our tree sponsors often tell us that neighbours and people walking by notice their new trees and ask about them.
Trees are wonderful for local biodiversity and it doesn’t take long for wildlife to move in. More than 20% of the world’s birds live in cities and they feed off the insects, sap, and any fruit or nuts that trees provide. Flowering trees are also an important source of nectar for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects.
The addition of just one tree is wonderful for its human neighbours too. Just looking at a tree from a window has been proven to lower blood pressure levels, and according to research from the Natural History Museum, birdsong has been shown to reduce stress too.
Trees make our streets nicer to live on, they improve the quality of life for residents and promote better mental health. Even house prices are higher in streets with trees, as these streets are more desirable.
As the tree grows, so do its benefits
As the tree matures, the benefits start to accumulate. This is where things really start to get interesting.
Global temperatures are rising every year and our towns and cities are becoming uncomfortably hot in summer as buildings cause an ‘Urban Heat Island’ effect. A tree canopy provides much needed shade for people and animals, and by releasing minute water vapour from their leaves they help cool the air.
Just one young, healthy tree can have the same impact as 10 air conditioning units running for 20 hours a day. And according to the World Economic Forum, within five years of planting, one tree can bring 3% energy savings for one household; and 12% within 15 years. Multiplied by millions of households, energy savings of this magnitude will result in a reduction in overall energy consumption and related emissions.
Depending on where a tree is planted, it can also protect us from pollution, which is linked to 40,000 deaths in the UK each year. The average fully grown tree produces the oxygen needed for two people to breathe all year long – which seems like a good enough reason on its own to have more trees around!
Trees drink up moisture from the soil, and in an urban environment, this can prevent damage and erosion caused by heavy rains. The climate is getting wetter, so every tree counts in helping mitigate against the devastating effects of flooding on our communities.
Each year, 1 tree will soak up 2,300 gallons of stormwater runoff. That’s about as much water as you’ll drink in 12 years.
Trees are one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against the climate emergency. When fully grown, an average tree can absorb around 48 pounds of carbon every year – in forty years this means it will have absorbed 1 tonne of carbon. We need to increase tree cover from 13% to 19% to reach the government’s net zero target by 2050.
The impact on the local ecosystem grows with time. Fully grown trees become homes for many bird species and attract other small animals – it’s common to see squirrels, and many types of butterflies and other insects in all kinds of trees. Trees bearing fruit and nuts are good for local wildlife, not to mention humans. The proximity to such an abundance of nature is good for everyone, and helps young children foster a love of the natural world in an urban environment.
an investment in our future
The pressures of urban development mean that sometimes trees are removed to make way for infrastructure. And it’s important that trees in urban areas are safe for the public, so as they get older or diseased they need to be cut down. It’s also a fact that trees die over time.
So there will always be a need to plant more trees in urban areas – even if it’s just one!
As the well-known proverb says – ‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’
You can make a difference to the world on your doorstep, and what better place to start?
Through Trees for Streets, it’s never been easier for individuals or groups to organise the planting of new trees in their neighbourhood. To find out more, click the yellow button below.