Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
Nature and Consumer Environments Trees and Transportation Civic Ecology International Urban Greening Urban Forestry and Human Benefits

Other pages present research on human response to city trees, urban forests and green spaces. Our knowledge of the benefits and functions of trees in built places has grown substantially in recent years. Yet there is a lag in general public awareness of this information, and integration of the knowledge into local government policy and planning. This page considers science and policy issues for better urban forestry planning in communities.



Studies, Papers & Information

Metro Nature for Human Health and Wellness
Metro nature is a term that captures the diverse and complex natural and ecological elements in cities, including patches of native landscapes, gardens and other cultural landscapes, urban farms, and the urban forest. A science review, Green Cties: Good Health, shares the results of thousands of peer-reviewed publications about the associations between metro nature and human health and wellness. Building on the article database, our team is now sharing other analyses and ideas about the role of metro nature for urban quality of life - including economic valuation.

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Wolf, K.L. 2016. Nature's Riches: The Health and Financial Benefits of Nearby Nature. University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy (4.0 M pdf)


House, E., C. O'Connor, K. Wolf, J. Israel, & T. Reynolds. 2016. Outside our Doors: the benefits of cities where people and nature thrive. Seattle, WA: The Nature Conservancy, Washington State Chapter, 26 pp. (1.8 M pdf) (link)


Wolf, K.L., M.K. Measells, S.C. Grado, A.S.T. Robbins. 2015. Economic values of metro nature health benefits: A life course approach. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 14, 694-701.(link)


Wolf, K.L., A.S.T. Robbins. 2015. Metro nature, environmental health, and economic value. Environmental Health Perspectives 123, 5:390-8 (link)

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2015. Green strategies to improve public health and save billions. International Innovations, issue 195, pp.56-57. (online magazine) (704 K pdf)


Wolf, K.L., and C. Vondrasek. 2014. Technologies for Metro Nature Health Benefits Mapping. Seattle: University of Washington. (24.5 M pdf)


Wolf, K.L., & E. Housley. 2014. Reflect and Restore: Urban Green Space for Mental Wellness. Annapolis MD: TKF Foundation, 12 pp. (7.8 M pdf)

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Wolf, K.L., & E. Housley. 2014. Environmental Equality: Providing Nearby Nature for Everyone. Annapolis MD: TKF Foundation, 16 pp. (1 M pdf) (link)


Wolf, K.L., & E. Housley. 2013. Feeling Stressed? Take a Time Out in Nature. Annapolis MD: TKF Foundation, 8 pp. (2.4 M pdf)


Wolf, K.L. 2011. Green Cities for Good Health: A Tool for Urban Forestry Advocacy. City Trees: Journal of the Society of Municipal Arborists, 7, 2: 8-15. (5.5 M pdf - or - link)


Wolf, K.L. 2008. Metro Nature Services: Functions, Benefits and Values, pp. 294-315. In: S.M. Wachter and E.L. Birch (Eds.), Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 416 pp.(4.3 M pdf)


Wolf, K.L. 2008 (Winter). With Plants in Mind: Social Benefits of Civic Nature. MasterGardener, 2, 1:7-11. (1.8 M pdf) and (156 K pdf with citations)


Trees and Community Economic Development
These papers summarize the benefits that trees and forests provide for urban dwellers and the economic valuation of such benefits. Valuation approaches have been devised to assess the economics of environmental services provided by urban ecosystems. Another domain of value includes human services that are provided by urban nature, such as productivity, wellness and mental functioning. While scientists have confirmed such benefits, translating these benefits into economic terms is still underway. A potential benefit of immense economic impact is the role of trees in walkable communities, with consequences for weight reduction and improved health of millions of urban dwellers.

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Wolf, K.L. 2015. Invest From the Ground Up! The Benefits and Economics of City Trees and Greening. In: Johnston, M., and Percival, G. (eds.) Trees, People and the Built Environment II (pp 20-31). Institute of Chartered Foresters: Edinburgh. (248 K pdf) (link)


Wolf, K.L. 2014. City Trees and Consumer Response in Retail Business Districts (pp. 152-172). In: F. Musso, & E. Druica (eds.) Handbook of Research on Retailer-Consumer Relationship Development. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.


Wolf, K.L. August 2007.City Trees and Property Values. Arborist News 16, 4: 34-36. (284 K pdf) and (48 K pdf with citations )


  Wolf, K. 2006. CONCEPT PAPER: Human Services Provided by Urban Forests: Economic Valuation Opportunities. (pdf 32 K)
  Wolf, K. 2005. Civic Nature: Valuation: Assessments of Human Functioning and Well-Being in Cities. In: Forging Solutions: Applying Ecological Economics to Current Problems, Proceedings of the 3rd Biennial Conference of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics (July 20-23,2005). Tacoma, WA: Earth Economics. (pdf 84 K)
  Wolf, K. L. 2004. Economics and Public Value of Urban Forests. Urban Agriculture Magazine, Special Issue on Urban and Periurban Forestry, 13: 31-33. (pdf 124K)
  Wolf, K. L. 2004. Public Value of Nature: Economics of Urban Trees, Parks and Open Space. In D. Miller and J. A. Wise (eds.), Design with Spirit: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association. Edmond, OK.: Environmental Design Research Association (edra). (pdf 56K)

How Cities Use Parks For... Economic Development. City Parks Forum Briefing Papers # 3. American Planning Association, 2003 (pdf 392 K)


  Urban Forest Values: Economic Benefits of Trees in Cities - Fact Sheet 3 (pdf 44 K)


Green Infrastructure, Human Health, and Ecosystem Services
Local governments are implementing green infrastructure to replace or supplement grey infrastructure, the systems made of concrete and pipes that provide utilities and services. Green infrastructure involves using landscape systems to provide biotechnology services and grey infrastructure alternatives on a metropolitan or regional scale. Green infrastructure also includes site-scale design, such as bioswales and rain gardens. Meanwhile, decades of research indicates the wide range of social benefits that are provided by experiences of "nearby nature" in cities. Such benefits are ecosystem services that benefit millions of people. These writings consider how green infrastructure can "multi-task" to provide ecosystem services of improved human health and well-being. Some of the articles include practical ideas for planning and design.

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Wolf, K.L. 2015. Encouraging Human Health and Wellness: LID Planning & Design for Co-Benefits. In: M. Barrett (ed.), LID: It Works In All Climates And Soils, Proceedings of the 2015 International Low Impact Development Conference (Houston, January 2015). Reston VA: American Society of Civil Engineers. (2.25 M pdf)

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Wolf, K.L. 2014 (April). Water and Wellness: Green Infrastructure for Health Co-Benefits. Stormwater Report. online :: text version with references


Wolf, K.L. 2014. Greening the City for Health. Communities & Banking 25, 1: 10-12.(download)


Wolf, K.L. 2013. Why Do We Need Trees? Let's Talk About Ecosystem Services. Arborist News 22, 4:32-35. (864 K pdf)


Wolf, K.L. 2013. Public Health and the Need for Comprehensive Urban Greening in Cities. Smart Growth Network - The National Conversation on the Future of Our Communities. (link) or (133 K pdf)


Wolf, K.L. 2010. Urban Ecosystem Services: Metro Nature and Human Well-Being. In: D.N. Laband (ed.), Linking Science and Society: Proceedings of Emerging Issues Along Urban/Rural Interfaces III. Atlanta GA. (78 K pdf)

  Wolf, K. L. 2003. Ergonomics of the City: Green Infrastructure and Social Benefits. In C. Kollin (ed.), Engineering Green: Proceedings of the 11th National Urban Forest Conference. Washington D.C.: American Forests. (pdf 260 K)


Creating Change with Science:
Science Communications and Local Urban Forestry Policy
Scientific research has expanded our knowledge of urban forest functions and benefits, and technology transfer (TT) is used to share information with varied audiences. How effective are these TT efforts?  A research study is evaluating the impact of TT on local government urban forest actions. The work is focusing on community change, using social science methods to determine the role of TT in local government decision-making and action regarding urban forests.  Results will have implications for all U.S. communities, as outcomes will be used to improve both the quality of technology transfer products and the process of their transfer.



Research Outreach Content: Delivering Messages for Policy Change - Creating Change with Science; Fact Sheet 21 (290 K pdf, B&W 390 K pdf)



Urban Forestry as Innovation: Communication & Community Need - Creating Change with Science; Fact Sheet 22 (650 K pdf, B&W 260 K pdf)



Urban Forestry Innovation & Adoption: Connecting to Professionals- Creating Change with Science; Fact Sheet 23 (300 K pdf, B&W 420 K pdf)


Wolf, K.L. 2008. Science and Community Change: Technology Transfer, Urban Forestry, and Local Government Policy. In: Smith, G.K.M., & L.J. Buse (eds.), Evolving Challenges and Changing Expectations for Forestry Extension and Technology Transfer: Popular Summaries of International IUFRO Conference. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Forest Research Institute, Forest Research Information Paper No. 172, pp. 72-74. (pdf 470 K).

  Wolf, K.L. 2007. Public Ideas and Local Policy in Urban Forestry: Reflections on a Program of Portable Science. In: C.C. Miner, R. Jacobs, D. Dykstra, and B. Bittner (eds.), Proceedings: International Conference on Transfer of Forest Science Knowledge and Technology. USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-726, pp. 249-255. (pdf 3.5 M)


  Wolf, K. L. 2001. Messages That Stick: Sharing Information with Decision-Makers. In C. Kollin (ed.) Investing in Natural Capital: Proceedings of the 10th National Urban Forest Conference. Washington D.C.: American Forests. (pdf 320 k)


Assessment of Urban Forest Management in Washington State Cities
A statewide assessment of urban forestry management was done in three phases by the Center for Urban Horticulture (UW) in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Data were collected from most municipal governments in Washington State. Assessments included tree/forest inventories, code and ordinances, and management practices. Results from the three studies are summarized here.


Wolf, K. L. 2007. Urban Forestry in Washington’s Cities and Towns. TreeLink, Washington Department of Natural Resources Community Forestry Program, No. 20, Fall. (3.9 M pdf) (1.9 M print version)


Urban Forestry Special Issue. January 2007. Western Forester 52, 1. (pdf 2.4 M)



Managing the Forests Where We Live: An Assessment of Washington State Cities - Fact Sheet 19 (pdf 436K)


Urban Forestry Research Needs and Priorities - Pacific Northwest U.S.
Science and technology are key elements in effective planning, management and stewardship of city trees and forests. It is useful to periodically step back and assess achievements and needs concerning research efforts. An assessment of research needs focused on the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., and is being used to initiate urban ecosystems science in the states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington.


Wolf, K.L., & L.E. Kruger. 2010. Urban Forestry Research Needs: A Participatory Assessment Process. Journal of Forestry 108 (1): 39-44. (78 K pdf)


Brinkley, W., K.L. Wolf, and D.J. Blahna. 2010. Stewardship Footprints and Potential Ecosystem Recovery: Preliminary Data for Seattle and Puget Sound. In: D.N. Laband (ed.), Linking Science and Society: Proceedings of Emerging Issues Along Urban/Rural Interfaces III. Atlanta GA. (254 K pdf)


Wolf, K.L., & L.E. Kruger. 2008. Urban Forestry Research and Technology Transfer: A Needs Assessment for the Pacific Northwest Region. Prepared for the Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service, 50 pp. (1.3 M pdf)


Wolf, K.L., and L.E. Kruger. 2007. What Should We Know? An Assessment of Urban Forestry Research Needs in the Pacific Northwest. In: Sustaining America’s Forests: Proceedings of the 2007 Society of American Foresters National Convention. Bethesda MD: Society of American Foresters., to policy (Portland, OR) (336 K pdf)




Research Needs for Urban Forestry in the Pacific Northwest Region - Fact Sheet 20 (pdf 164 K)


U.S. National Urban Forestry Research Needs and Priorities
A national assessment was also recently done, and considered emergent science needs across the U.S. Research recommendations built on initiatives launched in recent decades, expanding on those science programs that have gained momentum. The research goals address a range of science needs including environmental, social and economic topics.


Wolf, K.L. (editor). 2016 (second edition). Ten-Year Urban Forestry Action Plan: 2016-2026 - Research Needs. Report prepared for the National Urban and Community Advisory Council by American Forest Foundation and the University of Virginia Institute for Environmental Negotiation. Washington D.C.: USDA Forest Service, 20 pp. (10.7 M pdf)


Wolf, K. L. 2007. Goals of the National Urban Forestry 10 Year Research Plan. In: Sustaining America’s Forests: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters 2007 National Convention. Bethesda MD: Society of American Foresters. (Portland, OR) (260 K pdf)


Clark, J., W. Kruidenier, and K. Wolf. 2005. A National Research Plan for Urban Forestry 2005-2015. Washington D.C.: National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council/USDA Forest Service (pdf 6.1 M)


International Urban Greening - Japan
My sabbaticals in Japan in 2003 and 2008 expanded my research interests to community greening in high density urban areas (such as Asian cities!). Experiences at the Awaji Landscape Planning and Horticulture Academy, or ALPHA (near Kobe) created opportunities for international collaborations. Research at ALPHA addresses an array of human dimensions research in compact urban environments. While at ALPHA in 2008 I taught a class on Sustainable Urban Site Design (based on my participation in the Sustainable Sites Initiative).

  Wolf, K. L. 2003. Urban Forest: From Tree to Forest. ARCADE-Architecture/Design in the Northwest, 21, 4, 39. (pdf 413 K)
  Wolf, K. L. 2003. Introduction to Urban and Community Forestry Programs in the United States. Landscape Planning and Horticulture, 4, 3: 19-28 (Japan). (pdf 1.4 M)
  Wolf, K. L. 1998. Community Action and Urban Forestry in Business Districts. In M. Ozonoff (ed.) Common Challenges and Shared Solutions in Urban and Community Forestry: Proceedings of the Best of the West Summit. Davis, CA: USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station. (pdf 1.2 M)

Kuon-ji Temple

Additional Publications


Clark, J. R., N. P. Matheny, G. Cross & V. Wake. 1997. A Model of Urban Forest Sustainability. Journal of Arboriculture, 23 (1), 17-30. (pdf 940 K)


Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
Nature & Consumer Environments - Trees & Transportation - Civic Ecology
Policy & Planning - Urban Forestry & Human Benefits

revised July 15, 2016