Why trees: Green Infrastructure and the economy

Trees deliver a whole range of benefits, which make them an essential part of the future of any city or town. From reducing noise pollution, giving us shelter, encouraging exercise to making where we live, work and play healthier, happier places – the arguments for trees are clear.

Medlock Street, Manchester

Trees and urban greening play a key role in:

  • Reducing noise pollution – Noise pollution is a major cause of stress. Trees can provide a solution by reducing noise levels – up to as much as 6-8 decibels (1). They can also act as a visual barrier, which has been proven to make noise level seem less intrusive (2)
  • Creating urban shelter – Trees slow down wind speeds substantially, helping to shelter urban space. They also help to reduce air turbulence, especially around buildings, making towns and cities more comfortable for people (3)
  • Encouraging physical exercise – The cost of physical inactivity to the economy has been estimated at £2 million (4) Urban greenspace can make a cost saving contribution to the NHS and wider economy by providing a safe and stimulating environment for physical exercise
  • Reducing urban green space maintenance costs – Much of the open space in towns is close-mown grass., but by developing woodland as an alternative reduces maintenance costs whilst providing recreational open space benefitting a wider range of people (5)
  • Increasing house prices – House prices are between 5% and 18% higher where property is associated with mature trees (6)




  1. Leonard RE & Parr SB (1970) Trees as a Sound Barrier, Journal of Forestry 68: 282 – 283 2
  2. Anderson LM, Mulligan BE & Goodman LS (1984) Effects of Vegetation on Human Response to Sound, Journal of Arboriculture 10 (2) 45 – 49 3
  3. Bernatsky A (1978) Tree Ecology and Preservation, Elsevier, Amsterdam
  4. Cabinet Office Strategy Unit (2002) Game Plan: a strategy for delivering Government’s sport and physical activity objectives, Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, London
  5. National Urban Forestry Unit (1998) Trees or Turf? National Urban Forestry Unit
  6. CABE Space (2005) Does money grow on trees? Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, London