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Trees are essential and provide us with many benefits through forest bathing

Forest Bathing

Why Cities Need More Parks with Trees and Forests

It’s never inspiring to see trees being pushed aside to make room for parking lots or greater urban sprawl. It can be difficult to fight this, which is why you can benefit from the same terpenes that come from the trees and greenery in essential oil blends.

Even in urbanization pushes, it's comforting to see many cities incorporating more trees and greenery in city planning. Take Portland, Oregon, for example. Recent urban projects have transformed drab grey parking lots into urban forests that can help freshen the air. Other projects included a freeway that was changed to a beautiful riverside recreational area. Cities like Austin, Denver, and Minneapolis deserve mention in a list of greener cities.

trees in a park

The Importance of Trees and Green Areas in Urban Planning

Trees add infinite value to cityscapes and have been an iconic part of the world’s most beautiful cities, like the Hanging Gardens in ancient Babylon. Trees and plant life in a city connect with the humans who live there in a number of special ways.

As the harsh geometries and other unpleasant visual aspects of the city increase, trees can be used to add a pleasant sign of life and natural motion. When the application of trees in the urban landscape is planned masterfully, the results can be marvelous. The Jacarandas of Johannesburg and Pretoria testify this.

Trees can be used to add instant beautification to a city that is rapidly losing its character. As a concentrated expression of the forces of nature, trees can brighten up the outdoors and make the city streets a positive and pleasant environment.

Despite their enormous contribution to the livability of urban regions and the fine examples set by many beautiful cities, urban trees are in short supply. Furthermore, the art of planting and replacing trees within a city sprawl is deeply complex. Large trees provide the greatest benefits to the city scene but are hard to replace when they reach the end of their lifespan. Furthermore, the environment will never produce another tree quite the same.

Over the years there has been abundant scientific research that clearly illustrates the need for parks and trees in urban environments. Many organizations are in operation with goals to increase greenery within a city and protect what forests may be close to regions of human expansion.

bench in a park in front of a pond

Top Benefits Forests and Parks Provide to a City

Trees and Parks Provide Beauty

Without a doubt, cities are exciting high-energy locations with something for everyone. However, cities aren’t known for their beauty. Nevertheless, the city park is always a sight for sore eyes and soothing relief from the fast-paced city.

Some of the most beautiful city parks in the world offer millions of people the opportunity to view exotic wildlife and diverse plant species without having to travel too far. In Melbourne, the Royal Botanical Gardens sits on more than 100 acres of lovingly pampered gardens and waterways in one of the most pristine urban settings in the world.

New York City’s own Central Park features extensive acres of greenery and some grand old trees aging over a few hundred years. The rolling hills and wooded regions create a stunning impact on the urban environment that surrounds them.

Across the globe in cities big and small, the parks and tree-lined streets are invariably the most serene and attractive. 1

Urban Trees Provide Air Filtration

The more trees there are in a city, the better the urbanites can breathe and avoid diseases caused by contaminated air. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) dated 2012, 2.4 million people die each year from respiratory conditions caused by air pollution. 2

Streets that are lined with a proper selection of trees can help reduce the pollution created by automobiles and road traffic. Trees are also essential to removing the carbon emissions from the air and storing them safely in a process called sequestration.

It has been postulated that increasing the trees within city limits is the best way to reduce levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other contaminants and particulate matter from the air. A single mature tree can remove as much as 20 kg of CO2 in a year and then produce enough oxygen for several people depending on the size and species of the tree.

By removing poisons and toxins from the air and infusing the atmosphere with life-supporting oxygen and other healthy compounds, trees make themselves an integral part of the healthy city scene.

Greenery Improves Human Health

Some of the most common ailment of the modern society include respiratory conditions like asthma, inflammatory conditions and conditions of hypertension and undue stress. In addition to removing poisonous particulate matter from the atmosphere, trees provide a number of health saving benefits to those humans in their vicinity.

The heat and glare of the city at high noon is no joke and has caused conditions from heat stroke to death and aggravation of latent psychosis. A tall mature tree can extend its canopy over half a city block providing shade and cooling the atmosphere.

Urban parks with a large tree population are also high in volatile organic compounds, the vast majority of which are terpenes and possess a lengthy list of health benefits. Anti-inflammatories, antibacterials, phytoncides, mood-boosters, and immune-boosting agents are all there for the taking. 3, 4

Trees Make Money

No intelligent city plan can overlook the economic value of its tree population. In Tennessee, the value of each urban tree was set at $2.25 in equivalent benefits provided to the city and human population. That hardly seems like tuppence to guy with a $700.00 chainsaw and the intent to capitalize on that grove of 90-year-old walnuts ($650 apiece).

But, when the numbers are tallied together the figures become more impressive.

The trees in urban Tennessee have been precisely appreciated for their contributions to carbon storage, energy savings, and water filtering. The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a surprising statement that accredited $638 Million dollars a year from benefits provided by urban trees across Tennessee.

The statement also described some scathing losses, to the tune of $80 billion dollars, should this trove of urban trees be destroyed. Not to mention the ecological disaster that would ensue. 5

Trees Protect the Earth and Manage Stormwater

Stormwater runoff in the big city allows the pollutants of the air, water and city streets to be sent directly to the rivers, lakes streams and groundwater. These contaminants can poison fish and water creatures downstream as well as carry their harmful effects to agricultural regions.

With their massive roots and pervasive presence through the soil, trees filter the water and sequester harmful pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and many other pollutants. This makes the human living environment more eco-friendly and far more inspiring place to live.

Trees Increase Property Value

Trees contribute to the properties around them in a number of ways. In addition to filtering the air, increasing oxygen levels and enhancing the beauty of the surroundings, trees boost property value in the commercial or residential real estate market.

Mature trees in the right location have been appraised as high as $10,000 and just having trees on the property or even lining the side of the road can increase property value between 5% - 15%. In Portland, urban trees alone increase overall real estate value by $1.1 billion, or the equivalent of $7,000 per property.

Finally, as a big part of staging and improving property value before a sale, landscaping alone can rake in 20% ROI. A stately and fragrant Juniper could be the centerpiece of your garden in as little as 3 years. 6

Trees Help Take a Bite Out of Crime

It’s hard to think of gentle dogwoods flowering in the spring air as any sort of crime prevention unit, but they are. As a matter of fact, those trees lining your sidewalk may be the only things keeping you and your neighbors from allowing minor disagreements to escalate to assault and battery.

Think of it, trees are soothing to the environment and indicate the presence of life and more importantly water. The presence of trees in an environment connects deeply with the human psyche and communicates that all is well. This allows human interactions to be conducted from the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” mode as opposed to the “fight or flight” mode. 7

Studies have shown that the urban scene is stressing and can drive humans into a state of fight or flight and this can cause terrible interactions and resulting in legal fracas and regrets. So next time your temper suggests you say something you’ll soon regret, take a walk through the park and spend some time in the company of trees. The application of trees and parks in the home and neighborhood security is an important part of effective city planning. 8

Trees Help Beat the Summer Sun

Trees have their own cooling system very much as humans do. They release an enormous amount of water and organic compounds into the air around them, which is why the temperature in a forest is always comfortably cool. This cooling effect allows nutrients and moisture to be held in the soil where it can be used to extend forest life.

Trees offer this benefit to their neighbors in urban environments. Trees can help to reduce the cooling bills due to their enormous spread of foliage. Deciduous trees will then shed their leaves in the winter and allow the full strength of the sun to keep the homes warmer.

Cities without trees are at a serious risk of developing urban “heat islands” where the temperatures may rise a full 7°F higher than the surrounding areas. Without trees, the concrete and asphalt jungle becomes a sweltering sunbaked oven. Trees combat this because of their cooling benefits, making cities livable in the summer. 9

Trees Act as Wind and Sound Barriers

In a city, the tall buildings and street dynamics can allow the wind to accelerate to an alarming degree. This can pull hats from heads, topple sidewalks cafes and generally make things unpleasant for those outdoors. Trees can be planted at strategic locations to reduce the strength of the wind and even eliminate the biting cold or dust carried thereby.

The acoustics and din of the city, though greatly romanticized in pop culture, are nothing to brag about. But, trees can effectively block out the noise of a busy street or factory district. Choosing trees with extensive spread and foliage can also help to block out those unwanted views and provide a property with a measure of privacy as well.

forest tree line

The Clear Importance of Trees

Clearly, trees are crucial. They calm us and provide us with a number of other benefits. Forest bathing can soothe even the most hardened urbanite!

Photo Credits: Kckate16/, Behedix/, LaneV.Erickson/, JacekChabraszewski/

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