Urban reforestation

Urban reforestation is the practice of planting trees, typically on a large scale, in urban environments.[1] It may also include urban horticulture and urban farming.[2]

Reforestation in general is a common solution for groups to come together and find solutions for local and global issues.


Reasons for practicing urban reforestation include urban beautification; increasing shade;[1] modifying the urban climate;[3] improving air quality,[4] such as by sequestering carbon dioxide;[5] and restoration of urban forests after a natural disaster.[6] Increased shade from urban reforestation can also lead to decreased energy costs, as heat from the sun is blocked from heating structures that use air conditioning.[5] These benefits may aid in increasing local property values, filtering rainwater pollutants from the streets and thus improving water quality,[7] and creating more habitats for wildlife,[7] particularly endangered species.[5]

Urban reforestation may also be effective because it does not require the purchase of a large piece of land to execute. [8]


The Urban Reforestation organization in Australia is a grassroots organization that focuses on sustainable living in urban places.[2]

United States

Large scale urban reforestation programs in the United States include New York City's Million Tree Initiative[9] and TreePeople in Los Angeles, which planted 1 million trees in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics and continued planting thereafter.[1] In 2022, Boston announced a new forestry division to grow the tree canopy within the city.[10]

Grassroots efforts include Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco, which advocates for the planting of street trees.[1]

In California, there are government funded programs such as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Urban Forestry Program. They advocate for local sustainability as well as health and happiness for the community long term.[11] This Urban Forestry Program also seeks to aid disadvantaged and/or low-income communities. [12]

Climate change

Most cities have the potential to use urban reforestation as a means of combating climate change.[13] Urban reforestation can also contribute to lowering energy consumption.[13]


Trees planted in municipal areas are subject to removal as peoples' preference's change.

Urban reforestation efforts compete for money and urban land that could be used for other purposes. For example, effort placed in planting new trees can take away from maintenance of already established trees.[9] Equity of where urban reforestation occurs may also be questioned. Programs such as California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Urban Forestry target these communities, but this is not always the case. Inequality in distribution of trees planted during Urban Reforestation leads to inequality of life. Permanence of trees is also an issue as a tree planted is a tree that might have to be removed in the future due to preferences of land owners in urban spaces.[5]

Urban reforestation projects may also lack support in neighborhoods where environmentalist groups do not sufficiently involve residents in planning and decision-making, particularly when white environmentalists are conducting projects in communities of color, as noted in a 2014 report by environmental sociologist Dorceta Taylor from the University of Michigan. For example, from 2011 to 2014, a nonprofit organization named The Greening of Detroit planted thousands of new trees to restore Detroit's tree canopy. However, about a quarter of residents offered free trees in front of their homes submitted a "no tree request". Although they recognized the benefits of urban forestry, they didn't trust the organization staff, who were predominantly white and not from Detroit. They also felt that they didn't have enough say in what was being planted since they expected to be given responsibility for maintaining the trees planted in their neighborhoods, as previous reforestation project trees received inadequate care from the city and caused issues with appearance and safety.[14] Residents were a lot more open to the idea of receiving free trees if they got to choose what was planted.[15]

See also


  1. Gary Moll, Sara Ebenreck (1989). Shading Our Cities: A Resource Guide For Urban And Community Forests. Island Press. ISBN 978-0-933280-95-3.
  2. Jackson, Andra (11 June 2010). "Green thumbs and high-rise ambitions". The Age. Nine Entertainment Co. Pty Limited. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  3. Hall, Justine M.; John F. Handley; A. Roland Ennos (15 March 2012). "The potential of tree planting to climate-proof high density residential areas in Manchester, UK". Landscape and Urban Planning. 104 (3–4): 410–417. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.11.015.
  4. Taha, Halder (May 2008). "Urban Surface Modification as a Potential Ozone Air-quality Improvement Strategy in California: A Mesoscale Modelling Study". Boundary-Layer Meteorology. 127 (2): 219–239. Bibcode:2008BoLMe.127..219T. doi:10.1007/s10546-007-9259-5. S2CID 119573663.
  5. Perkins, Harold A; Heynen, Nik; Wilson, Joe (1 August 2004). "Inequitable access to urban reforestation: the impact of urban political economy on housing tenure and urban forests". Cities. 21 (4): 291–299. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2004.04.002. ISSN 0264-2751.
  6. Lisa L. Burban, John W. Anderson (1996). Storms Over the Urban Forest: Planning, Responding, and Regreening - A Community Guide to Natural Disaster Relief. DIANE Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7881-2948-3.
  7. "Urban & Community Forestry". www.fire.ca.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  8. Kroeger, Timm; Escobedo, Francisco J.; Hernandez, José L.; Varela, Sebastián; Delphin, Sonia; Fisher, Jonathan R. B.; Waldron, Janice (7 October 2014). "Reforestation as a novel abatement and compliance measure for ground-level ozone". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (40). doi:10.1073/pnas.1409785111. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 4210021. PMID 25201970.
  9. Corso, Phil. "Avella opposes mayor's Million Trees effort". TimesLedger. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  10. Abel, David; Anderson, Travis (21 September 2022). "Wu announces forestry division to preserve and expand tree canopy in Boston - The Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  11. "Urban & Community Forestry". www.fire.ca.gov. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  12. "Urban and Community Forestry Grant Programs". www.fire.ca.gov. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  13. "ShieldSquare Captcha". doi:10.1088/1748-9326/abe783/pdf. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. Mock, Brentin (11 January 2019). "Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-Planting". Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  15. Goldman, Jason G. (22 January 2019). "Do-Gooders Should Survey Communities First". Scientific American. Scientific American. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
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