Trees a 'low-cost' solution to air pollution and biodiversity loss in cities
Native woods and trees in urban areas, including gardens, provide haven for wildlife, reduce air pollution, surface run-off and flooding
Reversing the declining numbers of native trees and woods in cities would provide numerous benefits at 'relatively little cost', says a report from the Woodland Trust.
As well as access to green space, the report, 'Greening the Concrete Jungle', says trees provide a wide range of free ecosystem services including reducing the risk of surface water flooding and improving air quality that could save millions in flood defence and healthcare costs.
The UK has one of the world’s highest rates of childhood asthma, around 15 per cent, particularly amongst lower socio-economic groups in urban areas. Research shows asthma rates among children aged four to five falls by a quarter for every additional 343 trees per square km, as they help keep the air clean and breathable and reduce ambient temperature.
Trees are also able to reduce the pressure on the drainage system during flooding. The University of Manchester has shown that increasing tree cover in urban areas by 10 per cent reduces surface water run-off by almost 6 per cent.
A major international study published earlier this year, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), put the global value of services provided by forests and biodiveristy at between £1.2-2.8 trillion a year.