11 Urban Forestry Facts for Earth Month
Tanner Haid | April 5, 2022 | 5 min read
"every sight of you I know is worth the keeping"
Celebrating Urban Forests for Earth Month
The Earth. Our one-and-only shining, blue marble. Our green planet. Home. As we enter Earth Month, we invite you to explore (and celebrate!) some of the many benefits of planting urban forests, beyond their beauty.
As humans, we recognize, intrinsically to our core, that Earth is strikingly beautiful —and at the same time, devastatingly fragile. We must keep it, and hold it dear. For the sight alone is truly worth the keeping.
But like any love that we feel, whether for our planet or for each other, there’s a deeper affection that stems from what is inside of us. From what is hidden beneath the surface. This forms the silent backbone of all we do, for ourselves and others, that moves us forward from this day to the next. Like a good book, our true spirit lives within our pages, not on the cover.
And trees are the same. Especially in urban and community spaces, the impact of trees is deeper than their aesthetic beauty alone. Their sight is indeed worth the keeping, but that’s only just the beginning. From root to canopy, urban trees silently support and enhance the communities where they grow.
Here are 11 Facts that illustrate the Benefits of Urban Forestry
- Trees aren’t just good for people - they’re good for all people. Studies have found that communities of color have 33% less tree canopy, and that low-income communities have even less when compared with whiter, more affluent communities. To bridge this gap, it’s critical that we plant trees today: a new study finds that we need to plant 31.4 million trees per year in urban areas across the United States to ensure that all communities achieve tree equity.
- And more than that, trees help combat urban heat. Cities worldwide are experiencing days of extreme heat exposure at triple the rate they did in 1980. Due to climate change, this trend is expected to continue — and as a result, the risk of heat-related illness is also expected to increase.Trees are a part of the solution: shade from a healthy, mature tree can lower surface air temperatures by up to 20–45°F.
- Speaking of urban heat, 36% of US students (1.8 million kids!) attend school in an urban heat island — or, an urban area that experiences higher temperatures than surrounding areas. For kids, this can impact everything from their performance in school to their physical health. Not only does living within 100m of a tree reduce the risk of being prescribed antidepressants, but spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is linked to good health & well-being.
- Our health & well-being is closely tied to urban forests, as trees protect us from harmful airborne pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, which trees can absorb at a rate of 22 pounds per year during their first 20 years of growth. In that same year, that exact same tree will produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen. That’s a pretty good trade-off!
- Let’s not forget clean water (a single tree can prevent 100+ gallons of stormwater from polluting drinking water sources) or biodiversity (as little as 1 hectare of urban forest can provide critical stopover habitat for migrating birds) or any of the other benefits of urban trees. And all of this is happening within the context of a rapidly developing world with a rapidly changing climate.
- Clearly, trees are more important than ever. And not just for their natural beauty (which, by the way, trees can increase property value by 3-15%), but for all of the many benefits they provide.
Here’s How You Can Support Urban Forestry
Knowing the true impact and benefits of urban trees gives you the power to take action, and to be champions of urban forests in your community this Earth Month. To keep it, and hold it dear.
Ready to get started? We invite you to volunteer locally at one of our 100+ Earth Month tree planting events across the globe this April. We hope to see you out there! Because like the Earth, happy, smiling volunteers are always a sight worth the keeping.
Want to learn more about Urban Forestry from Tanner, our Senior Urban Forestry Manager? Check out his blog post What Is Urban Forestry? for a deep dive into what Urban Forestry is, why it's important and how you can get involved!
Special thanks to our amazing reforestation partners, and to our Earth Month sponsors alexa, Planet Oat, outer, kyndryl and Match Group. Our Earth Month events would not be possible without you!
Just want to plant a tree? Consider planting trees through our Fund for Urban Forestry!