Urban Wood Should be at the Heart of Smart Cities’ Strategies
How Trees Improve the Quality of Life in Urban Areas
We need more trees in our cities, period.
While we can admit to a certain amount of bias the reasons and benefits of incorporating more green areas and trees into urban development are both plentiful and objective. There is simply no rationally denying that climate change is upon us and that means a number of things. First and foremost—it’s getting warmer and secondly, we have a carbon problem.
Incorporating greater numbers of trees into urban areas presents a vast number of solutions in a single strategy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of urban trees
Natural ShadeAs temperatures around the globe are climbing slowly but surely, these spaces become invaluable to not only quality of life, but the preservation of it. The heat dome that rolled through Canada and the Pacific North West in 2021 caused a huge loss of life.
In lower-income areas, people often live without air conditioning. Not that, they are very often multi-generational homes and these can become deathtraps to people susceptible to heat such as the elderly. If you’ve ever sat underneath a shady tree on a hot day then you know how much better it is than even an air-conditioned apartment. Urban trees provide vital cooling space.
Carbon StorageOf course, trees are known for their role in carbon sequestration. In urban centers, where greenhouse gases are far more concentrated, this provides a valuable tool to help mitigate the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted.
Not only do trees provide a vital source of shade and carbon but they also provide cleaner air—another great solution to a common urban issue; Air pollution.
Green spaces and parks with enough trees promote the biodiversity of the area. The healthier we can make any ecology, the better. More trees attract more pollinators as well as the flora and fauna needed to provide the base of an ecosystem. It might not sound desirable, but it is.
We aren’t going to sugarcoat it—there are some challenges. Maintenance, powerlines, windstorms, and of course, space. It’s valuable, and cities have many challenges to overcome. To that end, we’ll point to some smart cities that are using urban trees successfully.
Of course, we have to start with our town! Birmingham Alabama has a great urban tree initiative supported by the Alabama Urban Forestry Association. We’re proud to be a participating member of the community and support this initiative wholeheartedly. It’s not just Alabama that’s getting smart about urban planning, either!
The Music City isn’t just good for rock’n’roll and blues—they have their own urban forestry initiative. It envisions the whole urban tree ecosystem from planting to recycling—you know we love that!
More recently, big cities like Dallas have begun adopting urban forestry initiatives as well. It goes to show that even a bustling Southern metropolis can see the positive impacts of urban forestry.
No matter what timeline you choose, it is really not about creating a city of luxury and having a nice space. It’s life and death. Smart cities that wish to look after their residents must choose to adopt urban wood—and choose life.
And if a tree falls down in an urban forest. Hopefully, you are there to hear the call and have it re-purposed for a long-lasting piece of urban wood furniture.