Stress on Urban Forests (by Anna)

The Urban Forests, which are patches of vegetation left in the city, are beneficial to the health of a city and its environment ecstatically and economically. As cities grow, the human population changes the natural landscape into “highly human-dominated environments” (Alberti). This process of urbanization changes the natural flow of nutrients, the energy cycle, the hydrogen cycle as well as the species which will live in this new habitat. This change puts stresses on various species, with the result of their population decreasing, and in some cases completely dying out. The result is an urban environment with lack of diversity in its species of vegetation and animals. The varieties of trees and shrubs which survive are limited, due to lack of nutrients, space, water, soil quality and presence of pollution. It is impressive to see that in the city there are still islands of shrubs and trees despite the many harsh conditions into which they are forced to live in. The number of vegetation in a city is limited, and will degrease if humans do not reconsider a more effective way of managing urban forests.

With the lack of trees, and larger tracks of wild land, the city becomes a “heated island” during summer, where there is little vegetation to keep the temperatures cooler and more manageable. On the contrary, an island of trees is beautiful, gives shade, and acts as a filter and improving air quality. These patches absorbs assess rain runoff, reduces noise pollution, and creates habitats for wildlife in the city. The local changes of the environment influence larger scale changes of the global environment, and “influence human behavior and dynamics and affect human health and well-being” (Alberti).  It is in the best interest of every community to contribute to the efforts in sustaining Urban Forests. They create comfortable, beautiful landscapes which do not only bring property value up, but the health of the ecosystem and of human health as well. This input from the community is necessary for the survival of urban forests, because unlike rural forests, “they are not self-sustaining and require an input of human energy for maintenance” (Cushing). Trees do not have a long life span in cities, due to pollution, earth compaction, limited space for growth and roots and pollution. The change in the global environment is another issue which impacts the wellbeing of urban forests, though the rise of global temperatures. Trees which do not tolerate the heat well will not be seen as far to the south as before. Those species will be limited to northern regions of United States. One way to expand the life of city trees is to pick the right trees, such as once that usually grow in a similar environment in your area. It is important that the tree is tolerant of the extreme temperatures which occur as well as natural disasters such as floods. The location of the potential spot of growing your tree is very important, since there must be enough space for the tree to grow past its maturity. It is also important to have a plan of how it would be taken care of in your community. Planning is an important factor in sustaining urban forests, and city trees. A tree is an investment into the well being of your own environment, which can be quite rewarding.


Alberti, Marina. Preface. Advances in Urban Ecology Integrating Humans and Ecological Processes in Urban Ecosystems. New York: Springer, 2008.

Cushing, Stephen. Urban Tree Selection Based on Environmental Stresses and Plant Responses: Development of a Selection Guide. Diss. The University of Guelph, 2009. 2009.



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