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The roots of sustainability: 5 reasons why cities need trees

Shefali Rai, Abhilash Verma


World economic forum

The article elaborates on the five key ways trees contribute to healthy cities. The shared understanding in these cities with a healthy, growing tree cover spans environmental, health, social, biodiversity and economic benefits.The environmental impact talks about the heat island effect and the role of trees as carbon dioxide vacuums and supporting urban biodiversity. The article also touches base on the effect trees have on human life in cities - improving quality of life, social equality and inclusion for all and economic boost for low-income groups.

Trees reduce energy consumption and heat island effects in the built environment by acting as natural coolers. Physical infrastructure absorbs ambient heat, exuding it back slowly into the environment, further raising ambient temperatures and creating an “urban heat island effect.”Trees are carbon dioxide vacuums. One tree can store between one to 22 tonnes of CO2 over the course of its life, depending on its type and age. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that: “The global population (99%) breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants.” It is expected that 6-9 million people will die prematurely from air pollution by 2060. In addition to mitigating air pollution, urban trees scale down noise and water pollution.

Through tree equity, the many benefits of trees - health, environmental, and socioeconomic development - are available to low-income groups in cities, thereby improving quality of life, social equality, and inclusion.

A good tree cover promotes urban biodiversity by protecting all those who live around and in them, and enhancing urban biodiversity. A diverse tree cover protects overall biodiversity – animals, insects, and natural vegetation – further supporting urban tree health.Urban trees help achieve 15 of the 17 SDGs. The future of sustainable and inclusive cities necessarily depends on how we tend to and protect our urban trees.


Tags: Environmental impacts of trees, Statistics

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