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Benefits of Trees

This brochure is one in a series published by the International Society of Arboriculture as part of its Consumer Information Program. (visit www.treesaregood.com for more publications)


The benefits that trees provide from social, communal, environmental, and economic perspectives. Most trees and shrubs in cities or communities are planted to provide beauty or shade. While these are excellent benefits, woody plants serve many other purposes. The benefits of trees can be grouped into social, communal, environmental, and economic categories.

Social Benefits

Human response to trees goes well beyond simply observing their beauty. We feel serene, peaceful, restful, and tranquil in a grove of trees. We are “at home” there. The calming effect of nearby trees and urban greening can significantly reduce workplace stress levels and fatigue, calm traffic, and even decrease the recovery time needed after surgery. Trees can also reduce crime. Apartment buildings with high levels of greenspace have lower crime rates than nearby apartments without trees.

The stature, strength, and endurance of trees give them a cathedral-like quality. Because of their potential for long life, trees are frequently planted as living memorials. We often become personally attached to trees that we, or those we love, have planted. The strong tie between people and trees is often evident when community residents speak out against the removal of trees to widen streets or rally to save a particularly large or historic tree.

Communal Benefits


Environmental Benefits

Trees alter the environment in which we live by moderating climate, improving air quality, reducing storm water runoff, and harboring wildlife. Local climates are moderated from extreme sun, wind, and rain. Radiant energy from the sun is absorbed or deflected by leaves on deciduous trees in the summer and is only filtered by branches of deciduous trees in winter. The larger the tree, the greater the cooling effect. By using trees in the cities, we can moderate the heat-island effect caused by pavement and buildings in commercial areas. Wind speed and direction is affected by trees. The more compact the foliage on the tree or group of trees, the more effective the windbreak. Rainfall, sleet, and hail are absorbed or slowed by trees, providing some protection for people, pets, and buildings. Trees intercept water, store some of it, and reduce stormwater runoff.


Economic Benefits


tree-shaded home. Heating costs are reduced when a home has a windbreak. Trees increase in value as they grow. Trees, as part of a well maintained landscape, can add value to your home.

The indirect economic benefits of trees within a community are even greater. Customers pay lower electricity bills when power companies build fewer new facilities to meet peak demands, use reduced amounts of fossil fuel in their furnaces, and use fewer measures to control air pollution. Communities can also save money if fewer facilities must be built to control stormwater in the region. To the individual, these savings may seem small, but to the community as a whole, reductions in these expenses are often substantial.

Trees Require an Investment

Trees provide numerous aesthetic and economic benefits, but also incur some costs. Investing in a tree’s maintenance will help to return the benefits you desire. The costs associated with large tree removal and replacement can be significant. In addition, the economic and environmental benefits produced by a young replacement tree are minimal when compared to those of a mature specimen. Extending the functional lifespan of large, mature trees with routine maintenance can delay these expenses and maximize returns.


An informed home owner can be responsible for many tree maintenance practices. Corrective pruning and mulching gives young trees a good start. Shade trees, however, quickly grow to a size that may require the services of a professional arborist. Arborists have the knowledge and equipment needed to prune, treat, fertilize, and otherwise maintain a large tree. Your garden center owner, university extension agent, community forester, or consulting arborist can answer questions about tree maintenance, suggest treatments, or recommend qualified arborists.

Developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), a non-profit organization supporting tree care research around the world and dedicated to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees. For further information, contact: ISA, P.O. Box 3129, Champaign, IL 61826-3129, USA. E-mail inquiries: isa@isa-arbor.com www.isa-arbor.com

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