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Ecological Benefits of Urban Trees

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Abstract

When distribution of rapidly growing world population between urban and rural areas analyzed, it seems to be more of the population lives in urban areas and it is projected to the difference between rural and urban population would continue to increase. According to the United Nations, in 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is projected to be urban. It is a fact that with increasing urbanization, the urban ecology begins to deteriorate significantly and conflicting with many problems appears to be a necessary situation. In terms of contribution to the urban ecology, increasing the amount of the green areas which are under serious pressure in urban areas are of utmost importance. In this context, urban trees are the most important elements to the fore among these contributors. For the solution of problems resulting from the deterioration of urban ecology, there are many benefits of urban trees such as ecological, social, visual, psychological, economic, regulation of relative air humidity, filtration of dust and noise, and reduction of the urban heat island effects. In this study, ecological functions of the urban trees which are the most important indicators of a city's social and cultural development were evaluated and the importance of the urban trees for urban areas has highlighted.
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ICONSETE
BARCELONA - SPAIN 2016
nd
2 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SCIENCE
ECOLOGY AND TECHNOLOGY
(ICONSETE'2016 )
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ICONSETE
BARCELONA - SPAIN 2016
nd
www.iconsete.org
Barcelona / SPAIN
PROCEEDING BOOK
2nd INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SCIENCE,
ECOLOGY AND TECHNOLOGY
(ICONSETE’2016 BARCELONA)
PROCEEDING BOOK
EDITORS
Prof. Dr. Mehmet ZENGİN
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Fetullah ARIK
Lec. Dr. Muhammed Kamil ÖDEN
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Evren YILDIZTUGAY
Assist. Prof. Dr. Oğuzhan GÖK
ISBN: 978-605-9269-55-1
Barcelona, SPAIN
15 NOVEMBER 2016
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Ecological Benefits of Urban Trees
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Ecological Benefits of Urban Trees
Ahmet Akay*1, Serpil Önder2
1,2 University of Selcuk, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Landscape Architecture
Konya, Turkey
(E-mail: ahmetakay@selcuk.edu.tr, sonder@selcuık.edu.tr)
Corresponding Author’s e-mail: ahmetakay@selcuk.edu.tr
ABSTRACT
When distribution of rapidly growing world population between urban and rural areas analyzed,
it seems to be more of the population lives in urban areas and it is projected to the difference
between rural and urban population would continue to increase. According to the United
Nations, in 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 66 per cent of
the world’s population is projected to be urban. It is a fact that with increasing urbanization, the
urban ecology begins to deteriorate significantly and conflicting with many problems appears
to be a necessary situation. In terms of contribution to the urban ecology, increasing the amount
of the green areas which are under serious pressure in urban areas are of utmost importance. In
this context, urban trees are the most important elements to the fore among these contributors.
For the solution of problems resulting from the deterioration of urban ecology, there are many
benefits of urban trees such as ecological, social, visual, psychological, economic, regulation
of relative air humidity, filtration of dust and noise, and reduction of the urban heat island
effects. In this study, ecological functions of the urban trees which are the most important
indicators of a city's social and cultural development were evaluated and the importance of the
urban trees for urban areas has highlighted.
Key words: Ecologic benefits of trees; Urban ecology; Urban trees
1.INTRODUCTION
Rapid urbanisation is destroying natural ecosystems and degrading the environmental quality
of towns and cities [1,2,3,4]. Although urbanization promotes rapid social and economic
development, but at the same time, leads to many problems, such as concentration of the
population, traffic jams, housing shortages, resource shortages, biodiversity reductions, “heat
island” effects, noise, and air and water pollution [5,6,7]. Especially In developing countries,
the migration of people from rural to urban areas is the reason for expanding urban boundaries.
This trend is exerting significant pressure on unprotected natural forests located near urban
centers [8]. According to [9] Gianna (2001), the factors that have particular importance in the
configuration of an urban microclimate are the topographic configuration of space and the
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geometry of urban gorges; the distribution and the provision of green spaces and, more
generally, all outdoor spaces; the sources of heat and the attributes of exterior surfaces; and the
demographic and urban density as well as the layout of buildings [10]. In this context urban
green areas which include urban trees appear as highly important fields to compete with the
upcoming dangers as a result of urbanisation. The aim of this paper is to analyse the ecological
benefits of urban trees and discuss their importance for the quality of urban life.
2. URBAN ECOLOGY
Urban Ecology is the study of ecosystems that include humans living in cities and urbanizing
landscapes. It is an emerging, interdisciplinary field that aims to understand how human and
ecological processes can coexist in human-dominated systems and help societies with their
efforts to become more sustainable. It has deep roots in many disciplines including sociology,
geography, urban planning, landscape architecture, engineering, economics, anthropology,
climatology, public health, and ecology. Because of its interdisciplinary nature and unique
focus on humans and natural systems, the term “urban ecology” has been used variously to
describe the study of humans in cities, of natüre in cities, and of the coupled relationships
between humans and nature [11].
There are at least three views of Urban Ecology as a field:
(1) ecology and evolution of organisms that happen to live within city boundaries;
(2) biological, political, economic, and cultural ecology of Homo sapiens in urban settings;
(3) cities as emergent phenomena of coupled human and natural processes with implications
for evolution and survival of our own and other species [11].
According to [12] Rebele (1994), urban ecology is both a practical science dealing with the
environment of people living in towns and cities, and the associated 'environmental problems'
such as water, air and soil pollution, extraction of drinking water, transport planning, noise, etc.,
and and a biological science as well. As a sub-discipline of ecology, urban ecology is concerned
with the distribution and abundance of plants and animals in towns and cities. As with other
ecological disciplines it is possible to distinguish between organizational levels of individual
organisms, populations and communities. To summarize, urban ecology is a diverse field of
research that forms a continuum from “pure” ecology in the urban setting to a combination of
ecology and social sciences to examine urban systems. Thus urban ecological research may
emphasize societal or natural sciences, and often seeks to apply research results to urban
planning and management [13].
It is a fact that with increasing urbanization, the urban ecology begins to deteriorate
significantly and conflicting with many problems appears to be a necessary situation. The
natural urban ecosystems contribute to the public health and increase the quality of life of urban
citizens, e.g. improve air quality and reduce noise [14]. In contemporary metropolitan cities, as
a result of lessening green areas and evaporation surfaces, increasing asphalted surfaces and
built areas meteorological parameters change and cause local and regional climate changes
which makes the cities unhealthy places that have their own climatic properties [7].
3. BENEFITS OF URBAN TREES
Urban tree is a woody perennial plant growing in towns and cities, typically having a single
stem or trunk and usually a distinct crown - growing to a considerable height, and bearing
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lateral branches at some height from the ground. Urban trees include individual trees as well as
those occurring in stands, patches and groups within publicly accessible green-spaces. Here the
term urban tree relates to a growth form rather than to a vegetation type, thus defining the scope
of the study [4]. According to [14] Bolund and Hunhammar (1999) street trees are stand-alone
trees, often surrounded by paved ground. Lawns:parks are managed green areas with a mixture
of grass, larger trees, and other plants.
The well-established ecosystem services literature [15,16,17,18,19,20,21] includes many
studies on the benefits of urban trees. Much of this literature stems from ecological economics
[20,22,23,24,25] and conservation biology [4,26,27]. The urban forests can improve the quality
of life of residents in two ways. First, urban forests provide residents and visitors with an
additional recreation and wildlife area. Secondly, trees and green space provide significant
advantages in terms of psychological and physical well-being. Additionally, urban forests also
provide free ecosystem services which are helpful in maintaining ecological integrity of
expanding cities like carbon sequestration, watershed management, and biodiversity
conservation [8]. According to [28] Mansfield et al. (2002), [29] Sailor (1997) the increasing
the forest cover in a city reduces summertime heat more that it increases wintertime cold. [30]
Huang et al. (1990) said that planting trees located around residential structures may reduce
both cooling and heating costs due to reduced summer heating and a wind-shielding effect [10].
According to the other studies, urban trees have various economic benefits. [31] Simpson and
McPherson (1998) found that savings of 1.9%2.5% on cooling costs have been estimated per
residential tree, providing a strong financial incentive to choose housing locations with tree
cover. According to [32] Aurelia Bengochea Morancho (2003) and the ‘‘hedonic technique’’,
the price of the housing relates inversely with the distance that separates it from an urban green
space. [33] Bolitzer and Netusil (2000) who concluded that proximity to an open space can have
a statistically significant effect on home selling price. [34] Tyrvainen and Miettinen (2000)
demonstrated that a 1 km increase in the distance from the nearest forested area leads to an
average 5.9% decrease in the market price of the dwelling [10].
Urban trees which could be used as solitary, in-line, group or communitiy in their habitats have
various functions in urban areas (Table 1). In terms of the plant properties, the contribution of
these functions to the urban ecology can be grouped as visual, psychological, social and
economical benefits.
Table 1 Urban tree benefits reported in the 115 research papers on urban trees examined in this study [4].
Benefits
Discussed
Demonstrated
Social benefits
7
5
Making urban environment more pleasant to
3
2
live, work and spend leisure time
Providing significant outdoor
3
2
leisure/recreation opportunities
Providing nature in the city
1
1
Enhancing quality of urban life
5
3
Promoting environmental responsibility and
1
ethics
Building stronger sense of community
1
Enhancing community’s sense of social
1
identity and self esteem
Providing settings for significant emotional
1
and spiritual experiences
Providing opportunities for inner city
1
children to experience nature
Economic benefits
28
27
Saving substantially on fuel expenditure
1
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Increasing land value
3
3
Increasing property value
13
12
Increasing rental price
1
1
Increasing neighbouring property value
2
1
Reducing ‘time on market’ for selling
1
1
property
Increasing property taxes
1
Increasing tourism revenue
1
Increasing business activity
1
Contributing to the economic vitality of the
1
city
Providing annual returns on municipal
2
1
investments
Alleviating the hardships of inner city living
1
for low income groups
Reducing expenditure on air pollution
7
6
removal
Reducing expenditure on storm water
4
3
infrastructure
Saving annual heating and cooling costs
2
2
Savings on electricity costs
1
1
Avoiding investment in new power supplies
3
2
Providing potential for future carbon
2
2
offsetting trade
Health benefits
5
2
Fewer complications and faster recovery at
2
hospital having windows with tree view
Reducing stress
3
Improving physical health
2
Creating relaxed psychological states
3
1
Averting premature death
1
1
Averting respiratory hospital admissions
1
1
Visual and aesthetic benefits
6
5
Providing a sense of place & identity
2
1
Creating seasonal interest by highlighting
1
1
seasonal changes
Improving scenic quality
6
5
Providing privacy
2
2
4. ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF URBAN TREES
It is well known that urban trees have various types of benefits with offering more than just
beauty and shade, trees provide intangible benefits, such as removal of atmospheric carbon
dioxide and pollution, stormwater reduction, temperature modification, and more. By measn of
these properties, trees and open spaces make an important contribution to the improvement of
the artificial climate of towns. They lower the temperature considerably by evaporative cooling.
A beech forest evaporates 83.8% of its radiated energy. In a town, 60% of the radiated energy
serves to warm the air. A small green area in Frankfurt which lowered the temperature by 3 -
3.5 °C and intensified the relative humidity by 5 - 10% ventilated the overheated, dirty, and
polluted town center and provided fresh air. Parks are able to filter up to 80% of the pollution
from the air, and trees in avenues by up to 70%. Even without leaves (in winter) the plants still
retain 60% of their efficiency: they reduce the lead content of the air, reduce noise by up to 12
dB and provide a supply of oxygen under calm weather conditions. In consequence, grassed
areas and trees should be planted more systematically in towns [35]. According to [36] Nowak
et. al. (2006), urban trees and shrubs offer the ability to remove significant amounts of air
pollutants and consequently improve environmental quality and human health. Urban areas also
encounter a common problem called the heat island effect. Public-space plantings and
parkshave become a crucial countermeasure for decreasing urban temperatures [37]. The
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cooling effects of urban streets and courtyards with treeshave been investigated, and the benefits
of plantings in the sur-rounding areas have been identified in several studies [37,38,39,40,41].
The Effects of Trees And Green Areas
The effects of trees and green areas must be seen in the context of the steadily deteriorating
climatic situation. In summary they involve:
(i) air cooling;
(ii) increase in the relative air humidity;
(iii) fresh air supply;
(iv) air filtration;
(v) noise absorption;
(vi) oxygen production [35].
According to [9] Gianna (2001), the attributes of green urban spaces that affect the urban
microclimate positively are:
(a) the high rate of absorption of solar radiation;
(b) the low heat capacity and thermal conductivity compared to
the structural materials of buildings and urban open spaces;
(c) the reduction of air temperature via transpiration;
(d) the decreased infrared radiation;
(e) the reduction of wind speed around the soil;
(f) the detention of dust and pollutants from the air; and
(g) the sound protection that the presence of trees provides [10].
In a research, [4] Roy et. al. (2012) reviewed the studies about the ecological benefits of the
urban trees (Table 2).
Table 2 Urban tree ecosystem services reported in the 115 research papers on urban trees examined in this study
[4].
Ecosystem services
Discussed
Demonstrated
Carbon related ecosystem services
30
27
Storing/sequestering carbon
30
27
Air quality related ecosystem services
38
34
Producing oxygen
2
2
Filtering air
11
9
Removing ozone
18
16
Removing carbon monoxide
12
10
Removing sulphur dioxide
17
15
Removing nitrogen dioxide
15
14
Removing airborne particle
22
20
matters/suspended particles
Removing dust
1
1
Reducing smog
3
3
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions
9
8
Storm water related ecosystem services
10
9
Reducing rate of storm water runoff
10
9
Reducing volume of storm water runoff
8
7
Reducing ooding damage
4
3
Reducing water quality problems
3
2
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Recharging ground water
1
1
Energy related ecosystem services
20
18
Reducing annual energy use
14
11
Reducing summer time energy use
5
5
Reducing seasonal cooling energy
4
4
Reducing carbon dioxide emission from
3
2
power plants
Habitat related ecosystem services
7
5
Providing habitat for wildlife
7
5
Enhancing biodiversity
1
Providing stability to urban ecosystems
1
Noise related ecosystem services
8
5
Reducing noise
8
5
Reducing apparent loudness
2
1
Micro climate related ecosystem services
25
25
Providing shade
16
16
Reducing solar radiation
4
4
Modifying microclimate
9
Reducing relative humidity
1
1
Reducing air temperature
15
15
Reducing heat island effect
10
10
Reduction of glare/reflection
3
3
Controlling wind
6
6
5. RESULTS
As a result of the urbanisation, urban ecosystems started to detoriate and people started to live
in unhealthy urban areas. One of the biggest problems in cities is the urban heat islands. Heat
islands are a result of horizontal and vertical building masses, heat-absorbing road and building
materials, wind-speed reduction by buildings, the drainage, by sewers, of the greater part of any
precipitation, prevention of water seepage into soil by coating with impervious material, the
reduction of energy consuming evaporative processes resulting from the absence of vegetation,
and city smog reducing long wave radiation. The result is a high absolute and relatively dry and
close atmosphere, provoking many illnesses [35]. Urban trees positively affect the improvement
of microclimatic conditions in urban areas, because of this reason urban trees should be
preferred to counteract with the negative efffects of the urbanisation.
During the last twenty years, increasingly ‘‘City administrators are more aware of their urban
climates and heat islands than they were decades ago, and urban planners and policy makers
are now more willing to implement strategies that can modify the urban climate and save energy
on the city scale’’[10,42]. However, the presence of urban trees is not entirely positive.
Environmental, social, economic, health, visual and aesthetic problems have been reported and
these problems have been defined as impacts that negatively affect human well-being, such as
nuisance, fear, threat of physical harm, health risks, aesthetic problems and different types of
pollution [4,43,44,45]. For instance, especially in warm climates, vegetation can have
negativeeffects, such as trees reducing wind speeds [37,46,47].
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Consequently, there are various benefits of urban trees such as ecological, social, visual,
psychological, economic etc. Increasing the amount of the urban trees that lead to the the green
spaces which are decreasing day by day in cities is a vital precaution. Thus in the continuation
of this process, in terms of -to avoid from the abovementioned problems, -to have ecology
friendly cities and -to increase the life quality in urban areas, this process should be completed
with the following substances:
xthe studies should be integrated to this interdisciplinary knowledge about urban
ecosystems into policymaking processes (to improve interactions between
policymakers and the scientists so as to help society achieve mopre sustainable forms
and this two-way communication process including political and scientists should be
more effective to adress urban ecological problems [11].
xthe awareness of public should be raised
xincentives for increasing the amount of urban trees should be provided
xthe local governments should be in a coordinated manner with the experts of the related
disciplinaries
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