Generally, urban forests are collective masses of trees found within the boundaries of cities, towns or neighborhoods. Such forests contain publicly and privately owned trees growing in parks, near schools, within residential yards, on the grounds of institutions and along streets. These tree collections may have very different appearances. They may be remnant forests, small tracts of trees preserved during development, that become a naturalistic looking greenbelt. Some sites have a designed landscape, made up of carefully placed trees and shrubs surrounded by turf, as in many urban or community parks. Some forests are on "leftover" land, an untended collection of plant volunteers and scruffy vegetation. Each of these forest settings not only looks different but the ecological functions of each varies. Nonetheless, scientists have proven that trees, in all settings, provide extensive environmental benefits such as:
carbon dioxide exchange,
• reduced energy use
• air pollution reduction, and
• water quality improvement

Trees face treemendous challenges within the built environment. Soil quality, space limitations, as well as water and nutrient availability, are all limiting factors to tree growth in built environments. Trees will sustain themselves in these conditions only if they are stewarded by communities of people. Professional urban foresters and citizen volunteers work together to plant, maintain and support the cause of trees in their communities. Many people who live in cities and towns have come to realize the many benefits and satisfactions that trees provide. Social scientists have demonstrated that interaction with plants in urban settings produces numerous psycho-social benefits. The experience of nature:
• helps reduce stress and anxiety
• improves medical recovery and convalescence
• contributes to greater job satisfaction and productivity, and
enhances quality of life.


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