An urban forest is any collection of trees within a city, town, or suburb in a human habitat. According to the U.S. Forest Service, over 130 million acres of America’s forests are located right in our cities and towns. Trees are an important part of urban infrastructure. Trees in Fredericksburg’s urban forest can be found in parks, our downtown streets, and in our neighborhoods. With the help over Tree Fredericksburg, over 7,500 trees have been added to Fredericksburg’s urban forest since 2008.
Trees and urban forests matter because they impact the environment we live in by moderating temperature extremes, reducing wind speed, reducing water erosion, filtering pollutants from air, water and soil, providing visual and sound screens, help manage storm water and flooding, and increasing property values. Urban forests help mitigate the urban heat island effect, particularly important in the summer months by reducing the number of unhealthful ozone days. The presences of trees also helps slow down drivers and reduces the severity of car collisions.
Research shows that residents and visitors respond more positively to urban areas that incorporate green spaces. Shoppers perceived increased quality of the goods and services purchased in communities with healthy urban forests along with a willingness to pay more for the same goods and services that could be found in areas that lacked vegetation.
For a detailed synopsis of the research read the August 2009 issue of the Main Street News’s article, “Trees Mean Business: City Trees and the Retail Streetscape” by Kathleen L. Wolf, Ph.D., University of Washington. More of her research can be found at her research project’s website, Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, under the College of the Environment at the University of Washington.