The city of Baltimore, for example, estimates that its 2.8 million trees store 527 tons of carbon and remove 244 metric tons of ground-level ozone annually. It also estimates that its trees reduce energy costs citywide by $3.3 million a year.
Forest restoration is a global issue, but planting a tree is a very local action. Through our Global ReLeaf program, American Forests works with communities of all sizes to get the right trees planted where they are needed. We have worked with Roanoke, Virgina; Houston, Texas; Washington, DC; and many other cities to increase their tree canopies. We have also been involved with smaller projects, like planting 331 trees at the Boston Nature Center to help mitigate the impact of rapid development nearby. View the rest of our urban projects here.
Urban trees are a vital part of a functioning ecosystem. City trees can significantly reduce stormwater runoff, which pollutes local streams. Trees also absorb dangerous chemicals and other pollutants in the soil and can either store the pollutants or make them less harmful. Portland, Oregon, for example, is trying to increase its tree canopy from 26 percent to 33 percent by planting 83,000 trees to help manage stormwater. Other major cities — including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix — are also increasing their tree canopies.
Trees improve air quality by taking in carbon dioxide and other air pollution and releasing oxygen. They also intercept airborne particles and muffle urban noise. Their shade and evaporation create microclimates cooler than the surrounding sunny areas, cutting down on pollution and reducing the urban heat island effect.
Trees can also increase a home’s value and reduce energy use. Deciduous trees on the east, west and south sides of a house can significantly reduce summer cooling costs. Besides shading the structure itself, trees can shade a heat pump compressor to make it work more efficiently. In winter, evergreens that block the wind on the north side of a house can reduce heating costs.
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