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Selecting urban trees for ecosystem service provision

Home Research Quantification and valuation of benefits provided by urban trees Selecting urban trees for ecosystem service provision

Urban trees provide benefits or ecosystem services to people. The size, condition, and species of urban trees determine their ability to provide these benefits.

To guide species selection for new urban planting, and to calculate replacement rates for trees removed from urban areas, it helps to understand:

  • the relative differences in benefit delivery of small, medium and large stature trees,
  • how benefit delivery varies within these stature groups, and
  • how benefits change over time, including how long it takes provision to peak.



Research objectives

The aim of this work is to help inform species selection for urban tree planting programmes as part of a right tree right place approach, and to support decision making on the appropriate numbers of tree replacements required following the removal of a tree.


Findings and Recommendations

Forest Research In Brief No. 1: Selecting urban trees for ecosystem service provision

This In Brief note brings together and develops further the results of two research reports, and an overarching Research Note:

Ecosystem services delivery by large stature urban trees

Ecosystem services delivery by small and medium stature urban trees

Understanding the role of urban tree management on ecosystem services

New calculations of annual ecosystem service provision by a selection of urban trees provide greater clarity for species selection and enables calculations to support tree replacement rates.

This work highlights the role of larger trees in providing greater benefits than smaller and shorter-lived counterparts, even over short time frames.

It also finds that trees planted in open locations provide greater levels of benefit compared to those in more enclosed settings.

How to use this work

The In Brief note and supplementary material (available in the Download section, below) provide provision of carbon storage, carbon sequestration, pollution removal, and avoided runoff by 30 urban tree species over 100 years.

The replacement rates workbook (available in the Download section, below) enables users to calculate how many urban trees should be planted to replace ecosystem service provision lost through removal of urban trees, and can inform species selection for new planting based on ecosystem service provision.

The methodology, assumptions, references and further resources are given at the bottom of this page.


Selecting urban trees for ecosystem service provision

PDF, 0.53 MB

Forest Research In Brief No 1.

Ecosystem service provision workbook


Excel workbook for calculating replacement of ecosystem service provision by urban trees



Ecosystem service provision data over 100 years for stature and leaf type groups