Trees shelter us
Trees make our climate more moderate by providing shelter and shade, making outdoor spaces much more comfortable for people. This is especially important for the youngest and oldest in our society, and considered tree planting can save up to 10% of the energy needed to heat and cool nearby buildings. They also help to slow down wind speeds, so prevent the ‘wind tunnel’ effect that can often occur in between tall structures.
They protect us from pollution
The UK Government estimates that more than 24,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of air pollution, making it a huge public health issue. Trees act as a physical filter, trapping dust and fine particles with their leaves and branches and absorbing these along with gases that are harmful to humans.
They make us feel better
Stress is an unfortunate fact of urban life, and has a significant impact on our health. A green environment is proven to be more relaxing, and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. Just 3-4 minutes spent in leafy green surroundings is enough to reduce someone’s pulse rate and any tension in their muscles. Activities related to trees such as planting, pruning and fruit picking are sometimes used as therapy, known as green prescribing.
They physically hold things together
Tree roots help to bind the soil together and prevent erosion. Some trees can also clean up contaminated land by absorbing harmful substances from the ground. Some trees have a remarkable capacity for growing in hostile conditions. In fact, derelict industrial land is often colonised quite naturally by trees. Using young trees in a carefully planned planting programme can bring contaminated ground and wasteland back into productive use.
Making areas quieter and more pleasant
Trees absorb sound too, so barriers can be grown to muffle busy roads and other sources of urban noise. They can also absorb smells, so planting schemes can cleverly be used to screen landfill sites and factories that produce odours that nearby residents find unpleasant.
They feed us
Lots of trees in towns and cities produce fruit and nuts, and the sap and leaves of many species can be used to make wine, syrup and even medicines. Harvesting groups are appearing up and down the country to pick fruit from urban trees to make sure it isn’t wasted.
They are home to wildlife
Trees play a vital role in the urban ecosystem, by helping to support a rich variety of wildlife that people can enjoy on their doorstep. Much of Britain’s native wildlife originated in woodland, but has proven to be incredibly versatile and able to adapt to an urban environment. All kinds of creatures, from tiny insects to the wild birds we all know and love, thrive in the urban forest. Even mammals have adapted to living in towns and cities.
Trees make our streets better
Trees help bring out the best in an area’s local character, by softening the hard urban landscape. Making our streets greener, more comfortable and more attractive is good news for everyone, so let’s fill our streets with trees!