Forestry is the science of managing forests, plantations of trees, and related natural resources. Some people consider it to be as much of an art as it is a science. Urban forestry is the management of trees within urban spaces. Many cities have green spaces such as small parks or areas of trees that line streets, recreational areas, and monuments. Urban forestry is a kind of forestry that focuses on the location and maintenance of such trees. There are many types of people who participate in, support, or help to plan urban forestry. Such people include city planners, environmental policymakers, and arborists.
Because tree populations in urban landscapes are exposed to elements much different than those that are in the wild, it is important that they are carefully managed and tended to. Furthermore, people who focus on the importance of urban forestry are often concerned with how the trees improve the surrounding environment just as much as they are concerned with how the trees must be protected within the surrounding environment.
Trees can provide many benefits within urban areas. First of all, it is well known that trees and other plants are excellent at cleaning and refreshing the air. Air in urban areas, which is often tinged with vehicle and factory emissions to name just a few pollutants, can be greatly improved by the presence of trees. Furthermore, trees and plants help to naturally cool the air and the earth. This can be a great benefit. Cities are generally made mostly of steel, concrete, asphalt, and glass which reflect and conduct heat. Trees can help to make cities in hot climates and cities in climates with hot summers much more bearable during warm weather seasons.
Because cities can be such harsh environments, trees that are planted therein must be tended, otherwise they may wither and perish. One of the key elements in urban forestry is making sure that trees in urban spaces are planted in soil of acceptable quality and that they have enough space for their root systems to grow. Just as trees must have enough space for their roots to grow, they must also have enough space for their canopies. This means that trees must have enough overhead space so that their branches can extend and reach the sunlight that they need to thrive.
While those who practice urban forestry certainly have many challenged to face, it is clear that the challenges are worth the benefits. Trees and plants in urban spaces are wonderful environmental investments.