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Why are trees so important to cities?

ByAlain Brodin

Oct 17, 2023
Trees: An essential part of our urban infrastructure

Trees are a vital part of our urban infrastructure. Often, when we think of infrastructure, we envision roads, bridges, or public transportation systems. However, trees provide numerous environmental benefits and should be regarded with the same significance as other urban elements.

Here are some of the main reasons why trees are crucial to our cities:

  1. Reduction of Rainwater Runoff: Trees play a fundamental role in absorbing rainwater. They act as natural sponges, intercepting and storing water, significantly reducing rainwater runoff. This is vital for preventing floods and controlling soil erosion.
  2. CO2 Absorption: Carbon dioxide is one of the primary greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Trees absorb CO2 and, through the process of photosynthesis, convert it into oxygen, helping to purify the air we breathe.
  3. Natural Cooling through Evapotranspiration: In a process called evapotranspiration, trees draw water from the ground and release it through their leaf surfaces. This natural process helps cool the surrounding air, making urban areas cooler and more livable.
  4. Providing Shade and Reducing Energy Demand: Trees create natural shade, especially beneficial in hot climates. By shading buildings, they can significantly reduce the energy needed for cooling, especially during summer months. This, in turn, reduces the amount of waste heat generated by air conditioners.
  5. Air Purification: Trees not only produce oxygen; they also act as natural filters, cleaning the air by absorbing pollutants and harmful particles.
  6. Blocking Direct Sunlight: Besides providing shade, trees block direct sunlight, helping to keep the ground and surrounding areas cool. This effect is especially useful in paved areas, where heat can accumulate quickly.
  7. Biodiversity and Natural Habitats: Urban trees provide shelter for various wildlife species, including birds, insects, and small mammals. They promote biodiversity by offering essential food and habitats to these species, often threatened by urban development. Moreover, the presence of wildlife can positively impact human well-being, offering opportunities for nature observation and connection with the natural world amidst urban settings. The presence of various species can also have tangible benefits for urban ecosystems. For instance, certain insects aid in the pollination of plants and flowers, while birds can control pest populations.



Trees: An essential part of our urban infrastructure

Trees are not merely an aesthetic addition to our cities. They are powerful tools in combating climate change, pollution, and other environmental issues. By planting and maintaining trees in urban areas, we can significantly contribute to improving the quality of life and protecting our planet. It’s crucial that urban policies recognize and promote the importance of trees in our cities’ infrastructure.

Trees: An essential part of our urban infrastructure


It’s essential to understand that trees are not just stationary beings in the urban landscape but are hosts to living, dynamic ecosystems that contribute immensely to the balance and health of the urban environment.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in: A simple and effective solution to help cities reduce heat – plant more trees.