Urban forests are an important source of ecosystem services in towns and cities. They improve local air quality, offer shade and cool the air, capture carbon, reduce flooding and provide food and habitat for animals, such as insects and birds. Valuing ecosystem services helps tree officers to manage urban trees, and town planners and landscape architects plan where trees can be planted for the maximum benefit.
Forest Research are working with platforms such as i-Tree and treezilla to quantify and value the ecosystem service provision of urban trees. These projects may include the following objectives:
- Mapping tree location and recording species, sizes and health
- Calculating the ecosystem service they provide
- Determining where more trees could be planted
More information is available on our i-Tree and treezilla pages.
This research is currently ongoing.
Funders and partners
This work is funded by the Forestry Commission
Forestry 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.
What's of interest
Introducing England's Urban Forest follows on from Our Vision for a Resilient Urban Forest defining what an urban forest is and seeking to understand England’s urban forests - their structure and composition.
Delivery of ecosystem services by an urban forests Research Report looks at the benefits society accrues from trees in Britain's towns and cities.
Hand, K. and Doick, K.J. (2019) Understanding the role of urban tree management on ecosystem services. Forest Research, Farnham. 10 pp.
Hand, K., Doick, K.J. and Moss J.L. (2019) Ecosystem services delivery by large stature urban trees. Forest Research, Farnham. 28 pp.
Hand, K., Doick, K.J. and Moss J.L. (2019) Ecosystem services delivery by small and medium stature urban trees. Forest Research, Farnham. 30 pp.