Why trees: In our towns & cities

Trees planted in urban areas in towns and cities can help to reduce noise pollution, give us shelter, as well as encouraging exercise.

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
  • Creating communities - Green space offers possibilities of increased social activity; improved community cohesion and local attachment; and reduced crime levels, particularly in deprived communities (5)
  • Connecting us back to nature – Humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life. Trees and green space help to re-enforce this important link (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. Bell, S., Hamilton, V., Montarzino, A., Rothnie, H., Travlou, P and Alves, S (2008) Greenspace and quality of life: a critical literature review. Greenspace Scotland, Stirling.
  6. Wilson, Edward O (1984) Biopphilia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press