03 Nov 2008

Essays on Urban Forests

As concern over the effects of global warming spreads (forgive the pun) like wildfire, the importance of urban forests is coming to the forefront of social policies.  Already two states have invoked “tree warden” laws and have begun a systematic management of their urban forests, Massachusetts and Connecticut, with other states considering such measures.  But why are urban forests so important?

Urban forests play important roles in our urban ecosystems, including but not limited to flood control, soil stabilization and carbon dioxide absorption.  Cities containing only limited urban forests or lack them entirely also show a propensity for higher temperatures.  The reason for this effect is quite simple.  Urban forests convert solar rays into potential chemical energy rather than infrared (heat) radiation that is emitted back into the atmosphere as the heated surfaces cool.  Advocates for urban forests point to this effect as the responsible factor in the creation of urban “heat islands.”

There has been much debate over this issue.  A fairly recent investigation into the urban heat island phenomenon declared there was no such thing, but advocates have accused the researchers of improperly conducting their investigation with poor testing location selection and limited data collection (the experimental data was gathered at night with comparative numbers gathered within the limits of a suburban community which also did not have an urban forest).

  • Other than the lack of urban forests, what factors might contribute to urban heat islands?  How do these factors contrast to the effects of weak or absent urban forests?  Can urban forests help in mitigating the effects from these additional factors?
  • Other than heat island mitigation, what additional benefits do urban forests provide to the cities in which they are found?
  • What is a tree warden and how does his or her presence assist in the health and management of urban forests?

Topics such as the value and effects of urban forests can be complex, requiring the skills of dedicated, experienced researchers to locate the necessary information and often to evaluate the significance of such information.  Fortunately, our staff of dedicated and highly talented writers is ready to assist you in this matter.

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