As a student at the University of Virginia, I find myself spending significant amounts of time outside walking from class to class, jogging through grounds, or just taking a stroll on the Downtown Mall. I pass countless numbers of trees scattered throughout grounds and the Charlottesville community, often failing to take notice of their presence. It seems that, particularly as students, we frequently fail to acknowledge the nature around us and the benefits that it can provide. Specifically, the presence of trees in a public space can provide economic, energy, environmental, and social benefits to those who reap its rewards. The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, a local group dedicated to supporting “rural and urban forests by increasing public awareness of the intrinsic value and beauty of trees, educating the community about trees and tree care, and partnering with local government agencies and civic groups to improve and restore the tree canopy in the area” are extremely knowledgeable about the external benefits of the presence of trees in the Charlottesville area, specifically.
Economically, the presence of trees can increase property values, reduce the need for investing in erosion control strategies, reduce incidences of illness reporting, and even encourage people to pay more for goods and services in tree-filled areas. Energy-wise, trees have the ability to provide cooling shade, reducing the need to expend energy on air conditioning. Furthermore, they can reduce heating costs in buildings if situated in the proper location, and they can reduce harmful wind speed detriment by acting as windbreaks.
Environmentally, trees reduce noise pollution by absorbing sound, reduce the Heat Island Effect, collect and retain rainwater, reduce and ameliorate the presence of CO2 in the community, and even lessen the effects of storms by reducing runoff and erosion. Finally, trees possess many social benefits as well, as even the sight of nature has been shown to reduce stress in people. Additionally, areas with copious amounts of trees have a lesser frequency of crime than those with low levels of nature, hospital patients exposed to nature demonstrate faster recovery rates than those who are not, and even hyperactive disorder symptoms in children are lessened after contact with nature.
While this merely demonstrates a brief synopsis of the benefits of the presence of trees in our lives, expert organizations like The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards seek to spread awareness in the greatest detail of the positive externalities of trees in the community and welcome any interested community members to join their meetings and discussions of the welfare that trees can provide. Furthermore, the Charlottesville Tree Stewards encourage those with all levels of knowledge to participate and facilitate an interest in the importance of trees, prompting interest through the YouTube video “Why Trees?” found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74063UKSmXw. Those who are interested can attend one of their monthly meetings, on the third Monday of each month at 9 am at the Department of Forestry in Charlottesville. For more information on the societal, environmental, and economic benefits of trees, or to contact the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards for more information about their upcoming events and activities, visit http://charlottesvilleareatreestewards.org/.
“G U F F.” G U F F. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
“Trees Are Good – Tree Care Information.” Trees Are Good – Tree Care Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
“Treesteward.” Treesteward. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Post by Elizabeth Brown, Second-Year, Urban and Environmental Planning