November 8, 2018
Why Trees: The Benefits of Green
By: Jeremy Kranowitz
Indianapolis faces significant challenges to its environment and its residents’ quality of life. Environmental stressors are many. Recent reports in the Indianapolis Star have highlighted significant challenges to air quality, including the 9th worst US urban area for airborne particulate matter. Recent IUPUI research puts Center Township’s tree canopy at 15%; American Forests, a national non-profit leader in urban forestry issues, recommends 25% canopy cover for urban residential areas. IUPUI research demonstrates a 25% loss of tree cover in Marion County between 1962 and 1993, the equivalent of 20 square miles of woodland.
- Trees help reduce crime. Research shows that trees help to reduce crime and foster safer, more sociable neighborhoods. In an inner-city neighborhood, the greener the residence, the lower the crime rate. Residents reported fewer violent crimes and property crimes in green neighborhoods as compared to those that were barren.
- Trees clean our air and water. There is up to a 60% reduction in street level particulates with trees.
- Trees reduce energy costs. Properly placed shade trees can save an average of $250 annually in energy costs.
- Trees improve our health and well-being. Exposure to even small amounts of trees reduces mental fatigue. School children with ADHD show fewer symptoms if they have access to natural settings. Reduced air pollution from the presence of trees helps to ameliorate respiratory problems, such as asthma—the leading serious chronic illness among children.
- Trees increase property values. Large, mature street trees are found to be the most important indicator of attractiveness in a community, and can increase property values up to 20%.
Research Demonstrating the Positive Impact of Trees
- Alliance for Community Trees: “The Benefits of Trees and Urban Forests: A Research List”
- Landscape and Human Health Laboratory: Read about Dr. Frances E. Kuo’s fascinating research on the positive effect of trees on social and environmental health in the inner-city.
- Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
- Green Cities: Good Health Read about Dr. Kathleen L. Wolf’s research about the relationships between nature and consumer environments, transportation, human behavior and more
Fact Sheets on the Benefits of Indiana’s Urban Trees
- Trees as Storm-Water Managers
- Trees as Air Cleaners
- Trees as Economic Generators
- Trees as Social Assets
- Urban Woodlots: Connecting Communities to Nature
- The Value of Mature Trees (PDF)
- The Value of Mature Trees (PPT)