Improving inner city environmental quality through “urban forests”

  • The European Commission has indicated that a growing body of research reveals the social benefits of urban forests. The primary benefit of interest is the positive impact of urban forests on the health and well-being of citizens within towns and cities.
  • Urban forests provide an important ‘ecosystem service’, and are proven to improve localised air quality whilst providing recreational space, flood protection, and micro- climate regulation.
  • However, ecosystem disservices must also be counted and weighed against the benefits and the magnitude by which they are provided. Urban forests will likely bring a fear of crime, allergens, pests, insects that also bite, litter from leaves, branches and animal droppings. The increased cost of maintenance and the noise that comes with pruning and trimming must all be considered in the development of urban forests and where they should be located.

This report advises planners to focus on context and ensure that the forest fits with the requirements of the local community. The scale of the forest is important as the services or disservices will increase with size.

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