|Tree Art in Anderson Park / Credit B.Yoder|
Trees have public health and social benefits:
Trees clean the air. They produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health. The urban tree canopy directly contributes to meeting a city’s regulatory clean air requirements.
Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, and reduces stress, while improving our quality of life. Urban landscaping, including trees, helps lower crime rates. Studies show that urban vegetation slows heartbeats, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes brain wave patterns. People with a view of nature and trees score higher on tests of self-discipline.
Trees have environmental benefits. Trees help reduce climate change by absorbing CO2 and sequestering carbon. Healthy forests are our most efficient, inexpensive, and natural systems to combat climate change.
Trees help us conserve energy use. A single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. .Acting as a natural air-conditioner, a city’s lush tree canopy ensures that summer temperatures are several degrees lower than in comparable neighborhoods without trees. Trees can reduce residential heating costs 10-15%; while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs 20-50%.
Trees filter and retain water. Urban forests promote beneficial water quality and reduce storm water management costs. Street and park trees in Redmond can intercept millions of gallons of rainwater. Trees capture and slow rainfall and their roots filter water and recharge the aquifer. Trees reduce storm water runoff, which reduces flooding, and decreases the flow of polluted water into and protects the banks of our rivers and creeks.
Trees provide important wildlife habitats for numerous birds, insects and other animals.
Trees have economic benefits. Communities and business districts with healthy tree-cover attract new residents, industry, and commercial activity. Homes landscaped with trees sell more quickly and are worth 5 to 15% more than homes without trees. Where the entire street is tree-lined, homes may be worth 25% more. Trees enhance economic stability by attracting businesses; people linger and shop longer when trees are present. Where a canopy of trees exists, apartments and offices rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate; workers report more productivity and less absenteeism.
Trees provide inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation such as playgrounds and parks.
Trees create a tapestry of color and interesting form that changes throughout the year. The color green is calming and relieves eye strain. Trees screen unattractive views and soften the harsh outline of masonry, metal, asphalt, steel and glass. People walk and jog more on shaded streets, encouraging interaction with neighbors and improving the sense of community. Trees absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40 percent.
Please complete the city’s online poll at redmond.gov/treecanopy by September 29.
David Morton, PhD