The practice of planting trees has gained in popularity as a response to climate change issues in recent years, but not just the wild forest requires attention.
Urban forests—trees that have been planted in urban areas—are just as important as natural forests. Cities may use trees to reduce flooding, sequester carbon, and give shade. But planting trees involves more than just making room for them.
Henry Arnold explains the value of urban trees in a research that was released by the Harvard University Arnold Arboretum. “The concept of sustainable plant communities, which is older, is related to the idea of sustainable cities… Instead of being exhausted, natural resources are replenished. However, because the natural cycles have been disrupted in cities, it is impossible to achieve this level of sustainability for trees there. Human action is necessary for urban trees to persist.
Arnold argues that in order for a species to thrive, it should be chosen based on the kinds of trees that are best suited to the environment’s natural habitat. Additionally, it’s possible that planting trees in a metropolis won’t be feasible at first. All of these factors should be taken into account early on in the planning stages of a tree-planting project since it can have poor soil quality, not have adequate water, or contain pollutants.
The author also explains how choosing trees for the city ought to be done with infrastructure in mind; they must support rather than hinder the metropolis. Trees can be “utilized as groves, arcades, connectors, buffers, canopies, and colonnades” in ideal circumstances.
But this can appear differently in real life. Stephanie Pincetl oversaw an interdisciplinary study that looked at tree-planting programs in Los Angeles, California. They examined the impact of planting 1 million trees in the city, looking at the amount of water different species required, the amount of cooling provided by their canopy, and other ecosystem services provided by various tree species.
Particularly in terms of water usage, certain trees performed better than others. Native trees in this study utilized more water than non-native tree species did. More species-specific research, in the opinion of the researchers, could assist city planners in determining which trees might be the most suitable for a city.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, despite the fact that planting trees in urban areas may seem like a no-brainer. The research implies that tree planting for ecological and human services needs to be conducted differently in different regions, and possibly even for different goals—well-being, shading, or just beauty—as Pincetl writes: “The specific characteristics in the Los Angeles case may be unique.”