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Strategically Growing the Urban Forest Will Improve Our World

March 23, 2018 |

This article was originally published on Nature Communications

“Growth in urban populations creates opportunities for urban forests to deliver ecosystem services critical to human wellbeing and biodiversity. Our challenge is to strategically expand urban forests and provide our international communities, particularly the vulnerable, with healthier, happier, and enriched lives.

…Ecosystem services from trees can be categorized as cultural (e.g., spiritual, recreational), provisioning (e.g., food, fiber, water), regulating (e.g., climate and flood control), and supporting (e.g., pollination, soil formation). Causation between tree structure and functional services include the obvious, such as harvesting an apple, to processes that only researchers may notice such as cooling buildings through shading, cooling the air through transpiration, silencing of noise through damping, and cleaning the air and water through filtration. In general, ecosystem services are greater from evergreen trees with large leaf areas due to the functional role of tree canopy3.

The Food and Agriculture Organization4 mapped how urban forest advance nine UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, descent work and economic growth, climate action, life on land, and sustainable cities and communities (see Table 1). Preliminary analysis suggests an average return on investment of $2.25 for each $1 invested in urban trees, and this >100% return does not include all services5. Urban forest services are invaluable for the vulnerable and low capacity residents without food, water, and energy security, who can find in these forests nutrition, clean water, wood fuel, and shelter, as well as jobs and a sense of purpose…”

Read on at: Nature Communications.

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