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US Forest Service
Attention: Urban and Community Forestry
201 14th Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

(202) 205-1054

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Urban and Community Forestry

Trees for People, Urban Forestry 101

save energyTrees Cool Cities and Save Energy

  • Strategically planted urban trees reduce energy use by shading buildings in summer and blocking cold winter winds
  • As they grow trees remove carbon dioxide and other green house gasses from the atmosphere and sequester them in their leaves, branches, trunks and roots. 

For more information: Center for Urban Forest Research


save energyTrees Improve Air Quality

  • By absorbing gaseous pollutants through their leaves
  • Binding or dissolving water soluble pollutants onto leaf surfaces
  • Intercepting and storing pollutants on the leaf surfaces
  • Capturing and storing air pollutants in the uneven, rough branches and trunk
  • Sequestering CO2  in trunk, branches and roots
  • Shading buildings and pavement reduces the demand for air conditioning and the formation of ozone

For more information: Northern Research Station


save energyTrees Strengthen Quality of Place and the Local Economy

  • Increase property values by 10 to 20 % and attract more homebuyers
  • Increase municipal revenue through property tax assessments
  • Urban parks provide the settings for festival and other special events that add millions of dollars to the local economy 
  • In retail/commercial districts shoppers spend more time and money and come back more often
  • Give people places to recreate, connect with nature and experience a sense of well being

For more information: Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening at the University of Washington


save energyTrees Reduce Storm Water Runoff

  • Trees act as sponges that keep water onsite and recharge the groundwater
  • A typical urban forest of 10,000 trees will retain 10 million gallons of rainwater per year
  • Reduce the amount of runoff and pollutants into creeks
  • While manmade drainage systems such sewers and storm drains accelerate the flow of polluted water through community, trees slow it down and clean the water
  • Tree canopies and roots protect the soil from erosion
  • More trees equals lower costs for storm water management

For more information: Center for Urban Forest Research


save energyTrees Improve Social Connections

  • Planting trees is one of the most valuable ways engage residents
  • Creates safer, supportive neighborhoods working for a common vision
  • Are a Focal point for community revitalization
  • Relieves mental fatigue and impulse control, restoring concentration
  • Offers a sense of place and improves the quality of life
  • Strengthens the social and economic components of environmental justice

For more information: Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


save energyTrees Help Promote Smart Growth

  • Strengthen the urban core by improving public social space and the walking experience
  • Give people access to nature in the city
  • Add breathing room to more compact development
  • Separate incompatible uses and buffer noise pollution
  • Support mixed use that improves real estate values and the local economy
  • Create an interconnected framework of green infrastructure that recovers ecological function, biodiversity and wildlife habitat

For more information: Smart Growth Network

save energyTrees Create Walkable Communities

  • Tree-lined streets encourage people to walk in their communities and walk further
  • Street trees have been shown to calm traffic through neighborhoods
  • Strengthen Complete Street policies for all users
  • Making streets more walkable and pedestrian encourages transit oriented development

For more information: Complete Streets

Download this fact sheet as a PDF


US Forest Service
Last modified: June 09, 2014