Livability

“On behalf of the City of Atlanta, I truly believe Atlanta’s future success must include more trees and greenspace.”

Shirley Franklin, Mayor – January, 2006

There should be little doubt that trees improve the quality of life.  Home owners and developers seek out neighborhoods with lots of trees.  In a parking lot, people choose to park under a tree whenever possible.

Trees provide beauty, make things quieter, calm things down and make it pleasurable to live in the city. In other words, trees improve our well being and quality of life.

Trees Improve Overall Health

  • “I looked at the impact of trees on birth outcomes and found that mothers with more trees within 50m of their homes are less likely to have underweight babies,” [10]

“Trees, quite literally, can be a matter of life and death for people.”

Geoffrey Donovan, US Forest Service research forester

  • Trees reduce respiratory problems such as asthma, the leading serious chronic illness among children, by reducing air pollution. [4]

Trees Reduce Crime and Build Community

  • Nbr of Crimes

    Kuo and Sullivan – Environment and Crime in the Inner City – Does Vegetation Reduce Crime? [7]

    In an inner-city neighborhood, the greener the residence, the lower the crime rate. Residents reported fewer violent and property crimes in green neighborhoods as compared to those that were barren. [6]
  • Researchers found fewer reports of physical violence in homes that had trees outside the buildings.  [8]

Trees Clean the Air

Atlanta Smog

Atlanta Smog – © Garrett Wollman

  • In one year, one acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe every day and absorbs as much carbon dioxide as is emitted by driving 26,000 miles. [5]
  • Trees reduce street-level particulates by up to 60%. [1]
  • According to American Forests, the forests in Atlanta remove about 19 million pounds of air pollutants each year, worth about $47 million a year. [11]

Trees Improve Water Quality

  • 37,500 tons of sediment per square mile per year comes off of developing and developed landscapes. Trees could reduce this amount by 95%. [1]
  • Community trees and forests act as filters removing pollutants and sediments while increasing ground water recharge. [1]

Trees Reduce Storm Water Runoff

  • To meet state sewer standards, the City of Atlanta is spending $240 million to counter effects associated with the loss of tree canopy. [11]
  • In Atlanta, the storm water retention capacity of the urban forest is worth about $2.36 billion, or about $85.9 million a year. [11]

References

[1]  Coder, Dr. Kim D., Identified Benefits of Community Trees and Forests, University of Georgia, October, 1996

[2] Keep Indianapolis Beautiful: Benefits of Urban Trees

[3]  International Society of Arboriculture: Tree Care Bulletin, Benefits of Trees

[4]  Georgia Urban Forest Council, SHADE: Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities, Healthy People, 2004

[5]  Trees Atlanta

[6]  Kuo, F.E. 2001, “Environment and Crime in the Inner City: Does Vegetation Reduce Crime?” Environment and Behavior, Volume 33, Number), pp 343-367.

[7]  Kuo, Frances E. and Sullivan, William C. – Environment and Crime In The Inner City – Does Vegetation Reduce Crime?

[8]  Prow, Tina – The Power of Trees, Human Environmental Research Laboratory at University of Illinois.

[9]  USDA Science Findings – Growing Quality of Life: Urban Trees, Birth Weight, and Crime

[10] Geoffrey Donovan, research forester with the US Forest Service

[11]  Georgia Forestry Commission – Environmental and Nature’s Benefits of Trees

[12]  The Guardian: The importance of urban forests: why money really does grow on trees