The urban forest is a complex community of plants and animals that surround and form a canopy over buildings, homes, parkland and streets. The most conspicuous members of this forest are the trees. Many kinds of native trees, such as oaks and sycamores, can be found in our urban forest, along with trees from other areas introduced for their adaptability, usefulness and beauty.
Trees make our neighborhoods healthier by filtering the air we breathe and cleaning the water we drink. They play an important role in water conservation and summer energy savings. They offer shade, protecting us from the sun’s harmful rays and helping us to stay cool. They also provide food and shelter for the many insects, birds and mammals that live in urban areas.
Air pollution can be a problem in urban areas. Trees of the urban forest help clean the air that we breathe. They make the air around them healthier for all living creatures by filtering dust and other particles from the air. Carbon dioxide, produced from cars and industry, is used by the tree in the process of photosynthesis.
Trees planted along busy roadways, near schools or next to parks, can help reduce noise and screen views. Tree-lined streets serve to slow traffic speeds and make sidewalks more attractive and safer for walkers and bicyclists.
Perhaps most important, trees make our neighborhoods more beautiful. Some research has shown that trees can reduce stress and make people feel happier. Trees of the urban forest are of great value to city-dwellers.