Diary of a Sutton Councillor

The importance of trees in urban spaces

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I was searching through some old files and came across this extract taken from ‘Greening the Concrete Jungle’ a Policy Brief produced by the Woodland Trust that I thought deserved a wider audience.

The importance of trees in urban spaces

The beauty of towns and cities arises from a mix of good architecture and design, and the landscape of public spaces. There is strong evidence that improving green infrastructure and the urban environment helps promote inward investment by creating a more attractive environment for businesses and their staff.

Trees are a vital element in providing structure and texture to green infrastructure, and yet this has been eroded in many places. Maintaining what we have, ensuring future generations of trees to replace those that are being lost, and imaginative creation of more places rich in trees is central to making towns and cities places people want to live in, visit and do business in.

Health and Wellbeing

Trees and woods are vital to health and wellbeing. There is a strong relationship between the quality of urban green space and people’s health and wellbeing.

Increasing tree cover mitigates some of the effects of a warming climate, reduces the impacts of poor air quality, and increases the opportunities for people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Green space, and trees in particular, provide both direct shade and reduce the temperature through the cooling effect of evaporation from the soil and plant leaves. One mature tree transpires up to 450 litres of moisture a day – equivalent to five room-sized air conditioners left on for 19 hours.

Trees improve air quality by absorbing pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and ozone, intercepting harmful particulates from smoke, and dust and of course release oxygen through photosynthesis. This helps to alleviate the problems caused by chronic respiratory disease.

Each year, 24,000 people in the UK die prematurely from air pollution. Research by the British Lung Foundation suggests that one in every seven people in the UK is affected by lung disease, almost 8 million people. The UK also has one of the world’s highest rates of childhood asthma, with about 15 per cent of children affected and a higher prevalence in lower socio economic groups in urban areas.

There is evidence that trees not only provide physical benefits but can also be important to mental health.

Trees and woods can have a restorative and therapeutic effect on the mind. Studies have looked at the beneficial effects of natural surroundings on children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Trees have been found to enhance mood, improve self esteem and lower blood pressure. The quality of natural features and trees in the city helps reduce mental fatigue and stress, and has important benefits for child development.

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January 29, 2016 - Posted by | Information | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Yes I think we must protect our urban spaces for people’s health etc. But I think that some area’s especially in the greater London areas like Wallington that has become part of the expansion of South London. Wallington I think in recent years has become over developed regarding in some instances the building agenda which has been allowed by the local council. Which I feel is a shame as Wallington to my mind was before a less built-up area..Of course we know that people must have local facilities and progress is a fact of life but In some instances an area like Wallington can change for the worse and not the better in my opinion.

    Comment by Carole Heath | April 29, 2016 | Reply


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