Urban trees hold historical and cultural significance. They’re part of our urban heritage. They’re landmarks. Old friends.

But they also serve us in other ways.

They clean our air. They shade our pavements. They lift spirits, feed wildlife and beautify our surroundings. They even increase the value of our homes.

Without trees, our towns and cities would be very different places.

50%
Trees can cut outdoor and indoor pollution by 50%.
£2bn
The total aesthetic value of the UK's woodlands is around £2 billion.

Credit: iStock.com / Franckreporter

Urban trees promote health and wellbeing

People exercise more and feel better around trees. Access to nature alleviates stress, stabilises blood pressure and eases anxiety and depression. Green space also provides opportunity for healthy, active lifestyles. Planting more trees means investing in our future health and cutting the future costs of health care too; it’s also a strategy that benefits the most vulnerable in society.

Credit: Phil Formby / WTML

Urban trees create habitats for wildlife

Trees provide homes and food for birds, insects and other wildlife. Whether it’s an ancient woodland or a city park, the presence of trees has a huge impact on biodiversity. A study in Merseyside found that the amount of green spaces – and particularly trees – such as parks, gardens and cemeteries, had the greatest influence on an area’s ecology.1

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Urban trees prevent flooding

Trees intercept rain water and can combat surface water flooding. They also improve water quality by filtering out pollution. Interception by leaves and stems can reduce the amount of rainfall reaching the ground by as much 45%.2 Grass and tree pits can slow the flow further, reducing runoff by 99% and 60% respectively compared to tarmac.3

Credit: Phil Formby / WTML

Urban trees improve air quality

Trees reduce air pollution, quieten noise and keep our cities shaded and cool. Studies show that well planned trees can reduce airborne particulate matter by between 9% and 24%, and can cool an urban area by 2°C.The leaves of road-side trees are so good at absorbing pollution that they've even been shown to halve pollution levels inside the home.5

Credit: Phil Formby / WTML

Urban trees elevate house prices

Houses are worth more and sell more quickly on streets with trees. A study based in North West England also showed that a view of a natural landscape added up to 18% to a property’s value, and that homebuyers would be willing to pay £7,680 per household for views of broadleaved woods.6

Credit: A.P.S. (UK) / Alamy Stock Photo

Urban trees attract business

Our environment, and trees in particular, has a dramatic and positive impact on our economy. Trees create attractive environments for business investment and development, creating the spaces we all want to visit, relocate to or work in. One study showed landscaping improvements in Tameside and Cheshire yielded respectively over 16% and 13% of net growth in employment.7

Credit: Courtesy of Mark Johnston / WTML

Urban trees connect us to our heritage

Trees are the living history of our communities. They have long been symbols of status, wealth and prosperity. Many of the mature street trees remaining in our towns and cities today are the result of Victorian street planning and have been a part of our urban landscapes for generations.

Listen to the podcast

Learn more about how vital urban trees are for local people, wildlife and the environment in our podcast with Adam Shaw and street trees guru Joe Coles.

Do your bit

Whether you plant a tree in your garden, get your community involved or stand up for street trees, you can help make our towns and cities greener.

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We want to make sure everyone in the UK has the chance to plant a tree. 

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More on what trees do for people and wildlife

Delve deeper into the evidence behind the benefits of trees

1Whitford, V., Ennos, A. R. and Handley, J. F. (2001). ‘City form and natural process’ – Indicators for the ecological performance of urban areas and their application to Merseyside, UK. Landscape and Urban Planning 57(2): 91-103.

2Forestry Commission. Cases for and against forestry reducing flooding

3Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Environment Agency (2015). Water for life and livelihoods. Part 1: North West river basin district.

4The Nature Conservancy (2016). Planting Healthy Air.

5Maher, B. A. et al. (2013). Impact of Roadside Tree Lines on Indoor Concentrations of Traffic-Derived Particulate Matter. Environmental Science & Technology 47(23): 13737-13744.

6Cousins, P. and Land Use Consultants (2009). Economic Contribution of Green Networks: Current Evidence and Action.

7Natural Economy Northwest Investment Forum (2013). The new EU green growth opportunity. Green Infrastructure and the European Structural and Investment Funds: Cheshire & Warrington briefing