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Urban forests provide many benefits
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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October is National NeighborWoods Month, which was created to celebrate the value of trees, particularly in urban areas. The funny thing is that with more and more people living in towns and cities, the more we need an “urban canopy” of trees. Towns, cities and neighborhoods benefit from trees because they provide more than shade and beauty. Trees are more than just pretty faces. Trees have value and the Alliance for Community Trees wants to help Americans understand the value trees add to our living spaces.
National NeighborWoods Month is an annual community service campaign sponsored by the ACT, which is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With 180 grassroots affiliates in 41 states and Canada, the ACT encourages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 80 percent of people live — in urban areas.
The ACT’s member organizations have planted and cared for 15 million trees in cities with help from more than 5 million volunteers. The ACT is the only national organization solely focused on the needs of those engaged in urban forestry.
Here are some little- known facts about the value of trees from the ACT:
• Energy savings
Just three strategically placed trees can decrease utility bills by 50 percent.
Streets with little or no shade need to be re-paved twice as often as those with 30 percent tree cover.
Trees reduce the amount of water runoff from rain and clean the water that does run off, saving billions of dollars otherwise needed for storm water control and water treatment facilities.
• Economic improvement
Residential property values can increase five percent to 12 percent if landscaping includes trees.
Workers with views of green spaces from their desks report 23 percent fewer instances of illness.
• Environmental health
Each year an acre of trees absorbs the amount of carbon produced by driving a car for 26,000 miles.
Trees cool city heat islands by 10 degrees to 20 degrees, thus reducing ozone levels and helping cities meet the air quality standards required for disbursement of federal funds.
By creating shade, trees moderate temperatures both globally and in the micro-climates of cities and counties.
One acre of forests absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide annually and puts out over four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.
Trees increase humidity in dry climates through evaporation of water from their leaves into the atmosphere.
• Social and safety for residents
Crime rates decrease in areas with more greenery.
Access to green areas reduces stress and aggression for people who live in urban environments.
• Educational
Children who have a view of greenery in their lives perform better in school.
Increased exposure to nature enhances the ability of children to follow directions.
Access to green spaces relieves the symptoms of attention deficit disorder, resulting in better concentration.
As you can see, there is tremendous value in having trees in populated areas. They enhance the quality of our lives in countless ways. Developing a healthy tree canopy, however, takes time. The incremental planting and growth of many individual trees, accumulated over a long period of time, can produce a measurable change in our living spaces. And with that substantial change, we gain the significant benefits of a full-fledged “urban forest.”
For more information about National NeighborWoods Month and a wealth of research on the benefits of trees, check out

Volunteer for these events:
• Monday, Nov. 15: America Recycles Day Take the pledge to recycle and have a waste-free lunch to encourage waste reduction.
• Saturday, Nov. 20: Recycle It! Fair for electronics and household hazardous waste items. Call 880-4888 for more information.
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