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Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices

Chapter 21. Air Quality, Climate Change and Urban Forests

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Urban forests play an integral role in air quality improvement. Trees reduce temperatures and mitigate the heat-island effect through evapotranspiration; they sequester the emission of greenhouse gasses by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; they remove air pollutants by trapping particulate matter in their leaves, needles and bark. Strategies to help improve air quality include: sustaining healthy large-stature trees; planting trees in heavily populated or polluted areas; and considering long-lived and low maintenance trees for plantings. These strategies help to increase pollution removal; reduce long-term pollutant emissions from power plants and maximize the air quality benefits that trees provide.

Bibliographical Resources:

McPherson, E., Simpson, J. (1999). Carbon Dioxide Reductions through Urban Forestry: Guidelines for Professional and Volunteer Tree Planters. USDA Forest Service.

Nowak, D. (2002). The effects of urban trees on air quality. USDA Forest Service, Syracuse, NY.

Rowntree, R., Nowak, D. (1991). Quantifying the role of urban forests in removing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Journal of Arboriculture, Vol. 17 (10), pp. 269-275.


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