Great article from Mark Cullen in The Toronto Star regarding the importance of trees in urban neighbourhoods.

Here is an excerpt:

For a long time it has made eminent sense to me that we need more trees in our urban spaces. If we spent more time and money on the planting of trees and the maintenance of the ones that we have, can you imagine the difference that it would make?

Here are some points to ponder from a variety of studies including one conducted in Chicago by the University of Illinois called the “Vegetation and Crime Study.”

Check out a full list of referenced studies here: www.markcullen.com.

Consider what trees do in our urban area:

  • Compared with buildings that had little or no vegetation, buildings with high levels of greenery had 48 per cent fewer property crimes and 56 per cent fewer violent crimes.
  • Trees encourage physical activity. Comfortable outdoor environments are more conducive to encouraging exercise. Research in the Netherlands and Japan indicate that people were more likely to walk or cycle to work if the streets were lined with trees. Residents feel better and live longer as a result.
  • The proximity of green space (and trees) to people’s homes increases the likelihood residents will choose to walk over other forms of transport.
  • Green play sites reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Trees and green space helps reduce mental fatigue and stress and has important benefits for childhood development.
  • A survey of 1,350 real estate agents showed that 85 per cent believe that a home with trees would be as much as 20 per cent more saleable than a home without trees.
  • CP Morgan, a developer in Indiana, found that his wooded lots sell for an average of 20 per cent more than similar non-wooded lots.

Add the well documented facts that trees cool the atmosphere, produce oxygen, sequester carbon, filter and slow storm water runoff, and transpire moisture on hot days. You get the picture.

The Toronto Urban Forestry Study, “Every Tree Counts,” estimates the value of Toronto’s Urban Forest ecologically as providing “at least $60 million in ecological services each year”.

In Toronto, there are about 4 million mature trees in public spaces and 6 million more on private land. At one time, the tree canopy in Toronto covered almost 40 per cent of our land area; today, it covers approximately 20 per cent. The tree canopy in Toronto has been in decline since the 1960s.

As you contemplate all of these facts, think about the impact more trees would have in urban spaces in our lifetime — and that of future generations.

Mark Cullen

Read the full article

GUFF Guelph