Urban and community trees boost human health

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Where would you rather be? In a city full of parks and tree-lined streets? Or in a city of concrete and glass?

Research scientist Omid Kardan and his colleagues at the University of Chicago studied the city of Toronto, which keeps health records for thousands of citizens, and a vast database of urban trees. Kardan’s study found that Toronto citizens who lived in green, leafy urban neighborhoods have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and other health conditions.

These findings were not a surprise to the folks at the New Jersey Tree Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to planting trees in the Garden State’s cities. Using volunteers and staff, the Tree Foundation plants an average of 1,000 trees a year in cities like Camden, Newark, Jersey City, Vineland, Plainfield, Bayonne and Gloucester City.

If urban trees do so much, what are they worth? A recent study by U.S. Forest Service and University of California at Davis attempted to place a dollar value on urban trees. Researchers found that California’s 9.1 million urban street trees are worth $1 billion in benefits every year

“Given an average annual per-tree management cost of $19, $5.82 in benefit is returned for every $1 spent,” concluded the study, which was published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

Learn More >>