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Human vs Trees in the Urban area

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Mature trees in our urban areas offer huge benefits like better air quality, higher property value, better health and well being, crime reduction and reducing cooling costs to name but a few. But we often come into conflict with our green friends. Why is this, and what can we do about it to ensure our urban area stay greener, healthier and happier place to live in?

It’s been proven for some time that there is huge benefit to having mature trees in our towns and cities but still people in urban areas sometimes have a ‘love hate’ relationship with trees near their property. As an arborist that has worked in towns and cities across the world, I’ve heard the same issue being raised again and again such as:

“The tree blocks all my light out”

“The leaves block my gutters”

“It’s not safe, it moves in the wind”

“It’s damaging my pipes”

“I like trees but that one is in the wrong place”

And these are all very valid points. As our urban areas become more and more pushed for space we’re finding that the space we once had for trees is getting smaller and smaller and many of our older streets weren’t designed and landscaped for dense urban living. But it's not only street trees, as privately owned trees in gardens add to the issues too. All of this means that trees in some cases are touching buildings, blocking light and views from a property, dropping branches on cars from time to time and damaging old buildings and pipes. Streets were designed to have large trees to soften the hard landscaping and structures (no one wants to just see concrete), as well as helping manage pollution and to stop the disconnect from nature.

So what can we do?

We don’t want to remove our beloved urban forest because of the massive benefits it gives us so what do we do? There are several things we can do:

Prune our urban trees when they need it - using the correct pruning techniques can let more light under and through the tree crown, reducing the amount of leaf litter ending up in gutters, thus reducing the risk of limbs/branches failing (falling off) trees.

Above crown lifting to allow more light under the crown, improving visibility and clearance

We can plan how we develop/build in our urban areas better by incorporating mature trees to benefit our developments and thinking about future issues that might arise as trees grow. Leaving that little bit of extra space between buildings and trees can save lot of problems and money down the line.

Plant the right trees in the right place. Trees are often planted in small areas with little thought about the species of tree it is and how big it might get. If we plant trees that are better suited to that area for its space, soil and location there will be less likelihood that people and the tree will come into conflict as it matures.

Change our view and attitude on trees. We can start to change our view and attitude on trees from negative to positive. Simple things like remembering that they are cleaning the air you breathe and that trees might actually be making you money. This is due to the trees increasing property value as well as reducing cooling cost in summer which will save you money. The list of benefits is massive, and there will be a whole blog post on this another time

Above mature pollarded plane trees on a small street in England

So in conclusion, as our city and towns grow we are only going to find our conflict with trees in urban area increase, however by having good planning and management strategies in place we will see them less as a hindrances and more of massive assets that we need to look after and care for.

Have we missed some thing? Let us know! Do you want to talk to us about your tree management options, then please don’t hesitant to contact us.

Call us on 0800 873 353

Follow us on Facebook @treelandsnz



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