With urban development constantly changing the landscape of the city, much care and thought is needed to preserve the urban forests. Proper planning is needed to maintain a healthy eco-system within the city.


What is an urban forest?[1]

An urban forest includes trees and associated organisms existing within a city. Care and management of urban forests is called urban forestry. Urban forests include all greenbelts, municipal watersheds, recreation sites and roadsides.

With sprawling skyscrapers that continue to fill the cityscape, there is a tendency for cities to spread out and encroach on rural lands and wildlife habitats. If left unchecked, this constant urban development can lead to a deterioration of air quality and other environmental issues in the city. To circumvent these harmful effects, city planning is needed to protect the “lungs” of the city.

The various plants and trees in greenbelts serve as organic sponges for various forms of pollution, and as storehouses of ​carbon dioxide to help offset global climate change.

Creating a breathable city

By taking into consideration the current urban forest sprawls in cities, plans can be made to ensure that further urban development is sustainable and maintains the habitat and biodiversity of the ecosystem of local flora and fauna.

Urban forests provide benefits to the people who reside in cities, including energy conservation, improved aesthetics, noise abatement, recreation opportunities, stormwater control, and may have a positive effect on property value.

At the global level, 19% of the carbon in the earth’s biosphere is stored in plants, and 81% in the soil. In all forests, tropical, temperate, and boreal together, approximately 31% of the carbon is stored in the biomass and 69% in the soil. In tropical forests, approximately 50% of the carbon is stored in the biomass and 50% in the soil.[2]

One tree in a forest can capture an average of 0.62 metric tons of carbon monoxide over its lifetime. That equates to the carbon emissions of driving a car for approximately 2,400km.[3]


How can planting more trees in the city make us healthier?

Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, provide shade, and can maintain a rich biodiversity. By planting more trees in the city, we not only reduce the overall temperature of the city but make the city look lively as well.

Trees prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses by lowering temperatures and counteracting the urban heat island effect[4], in which darkly coloured surface materials such as roads and rooftops, absorb heat and make their urban surroundings warmer.[5]

Trees also absorb rainfall, reducing the risk of extreme flooding. At the same time, trees filter sediments and other pollutants from the water in the soil before it reaches a water source, such as a stream, lake, or river.

City trees can also improve air quality by trapping air pollutants, which keeps the air clean, limits the formation of ground-level ozone, and reduces cardiovascular and lower respiratory tract illnesses.[6]



[1] M Amati – Urban green belts in the twenty-first century (2016)

[2] IPCC — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report 2020

[3] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/02/robot-tree-planter-deforestation-climate-change/

[4] https://www.americanforests.org/af-news/what-is-the-urban-heat-island-effect/

[5] https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/reduce-urban-heat-island-effect

[6] https://www.nrdc.org/stories/green-infrastructure-how-manage-water-sustainable-way