Trees dressed in tinsel, ornaments and lights are common in households around the world over the holiday season. While conifers are known for decorating homes over holidays there are many other benefits they provide as urban trees in yards and along streets. ISA released an article regarding these benefits.
Urban trees provide many benefits to communities: reduced energy cost, intercepting and storing rain water, reduced CO2 levels and many more. Conifers are particularly wonderful urban trees because they offer these benefits year round. Deciduous trees do not offer all of their benefits year round because they lose their leaves and canopy cover, which is the cause of many of the benefits of urban trees.
Trees reduce energy costs by providing shade from the sun to keep houses cool in the summer. They provide wind break in the cooler seasons to keep houses warm. Windbreak and shade are results of a full tree with many leaves, which are shed from deciduous trees over winter seasons. Meanwhile, conifers maintain their foliage over winter seasons, therefore maintaining the benefit of reducing energy cost. The same philosophy applies to the benefit of urban trees interception rain water. Deciduous trees are beneficial because they do not shed their leaves, which provide the benefit.
Conifers also provide the aesthetic benefits of urban trees year round. Studies have shown that urban trees, and increased green space in urban areas, have psychological benefits, such as reduced stress and increased community relationships. Conifers help to maintain these benefits during the seasons that deciduous trees are bare.
In addition, by introducing coniferous trees into urban landscapes it increases the level of species diversity in the community. Increased species diversity is a key factor in decreased tree loses due to invasive species and pests. If there are different tree species, fewer will be affected if there is an infestation of an invasive species or pest. Standard considerations should still be considered when choosing a tree for an urban area.
Even though coniferous trees are known for being inside peoples’ homes during the winter months, having more conifers outside homes enables individuals to experience the benefits of urban trees year round.
For more information contact Ellen Clark (EllenA.Clark@Wisconsin.gov), Urban Forestry Communication Specialist, at 608-267-2774.