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Benefits of Urban Trees

Updated: Feb 23

Picture this: you wake up at 10:00 A.M. in your New York City apartment. Birds chirping, sun shining through your window as you approach and open it to reveal a pleasant breeze and a dewy smell. Looking out, now with a mug in your hand, you see the sun’s reflection in the trees below, as others diligently walk by, seemingly also enjoying the scenery. In a perfect world, this would always be the case. Unsurprisingly, trees are essential to maintaining many factors of this story. Although we may not realize the true impact trees can have on our environment, they are a huge factor to how nature functions, especially in urban areas.

Not only do urban trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is largely released by factories and car combustion in cities and can contribute to lung irritation, but they can also cool cities down through a process called transpiration. Through this process, trees absorb water through their roots and release water vapor into the air through their leaves, consequently cooling their surroundings. This can even decrease the fatal effects of heatwaves in the city if enough trees are planted. Additionally, trees can significantly improve the air quality in cities. According to The Nature Conservancy’s summary of The Planting Healthy Air report, numerous cities, including Jakarta, Indonesia and Atlanta, Georgia have found lessened particulate matter and temperature levels by planting more trees and vegetation. These studies can demonstrate how merely adding more trees to our environment can improve our physical health, along with our surroundings.

Apart from physical benefits, urban trees can also strongly benefit our mental health. Being outside in nature can boost your oxygen levels making you more alert, but there are also numerous studies which link one’s surroundings with their mood and motivation. According to a 2015 study in London, individuals who had been diagnosed with depression and exposed to forested areas lowered their antidepressant prescription rate. If more trees were planted in cities, it may cause a boost in mood and motivation, even for those clinically diagnosed and medicated for their mental health, leading to a more productive and confident environment.

Overall, urban trees are an essential aspect to how cities function. Without these trees, urban areas could have the potential to be even more overbearingly hot, have increased lung irritants, and severely impact the mental health of the citizens of the city. In order to prevent these possible negative effects, along with the many other potential outcomes, we must not only maintain but increase the amount of trees we have in cities.



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