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Ecosystem service assessment tools, such as the i-Tree suite of tools, can use tree growth rate equations to calculate the ecosystem service provision of an urban forest over time.

In this work the age of four deciduous urban tree species was assessed from tree ring widths and related to the tree’s DBH and height, to investigate how growth rates vary across different cities. Radial growth was also related to precipitation and temperature, to determine the level of impact that these climatic factors have on tree growth.

Future work will continue relating the variance in growth of trees from different locations to changing environmental conditions such climate and air pollution, through stable isotope analysis.


This research started in 2013 and is planned to finish in 2019.


Dr Tom Levanic, from the Slovenian Forestry Institute, is collaborating in the dendrochronological and stable isotope analysis.


Research objectives

Forest Research is:

  • assessing the growth rates for four common deciduous urban tree species
  • studying the relationship between the variance of growth rates across different cities and environmental conditions such as climate and air pollution
  • comparing mean annual growth rates with those currently used in models such as i-Tree eco, in order to improve the estimations of ecosystem service provision under Great Britain conditions.


Vaz Monteiro, M., Levanič, T., Doick, K.J., 2017. Growth rates of common urban trees in five cities in Great Britain: a dendrochronological evaluation with an emphasis on the impact of climate. Urban Forest & Urban Greening, 22, 11–23.

Foresty Commission Policy

Climate change represents a significant threat to urban infrastructure, environmental quality and the health of city dwellers. Green infrastructure is itself at risk through greater extremes in temperature fluctuation, consequent flourishing of tree pests and diseases, drought and perceived increased risk of subsidence leading to tree removal.

There is no clear system for determining the biophysical interactions, benefits, or managing potential trade-offs within a risk-benefit context, so as to optimally support the protection and sustainable regeneration of UK towns and cities. The Urban Trees and Greenspace in a Changing Climate Programme intends to develop such a system through consolidating and building upon existing work to provide the evidence base for urban trees, definition and communication of best practice guidance, and robust assessment, evaluation and dissemination tools so that the risks and benefits of urban tree placement can be more fully assessed by society, policy makers and planners.

The Programme also maintains the centre of excellence which FR has developed over several decades on land regeneration practices to establish and maintain urban greenspaces on former brownfield and contaminated sites.

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Urban trees and greenspace in a changing climate

Research to understand the contribution that urban trees make with respect to: the resilience of current and planned urban tree stocks to climate change, their role in regulating temperatures, and water management in urban areas

Status current