Ecosystem services of a tree

This section is connected to exercise 1 Noticing trees in cities

The most obvious benefit of trees for the planet is often identified by their photosynthesizing character. As trees breathe in carbon dioxide, they produce fresh oxygen and convert the captured CO2 to glucose and use it to grow (carbon sequestering) As a by-product, water is released into the atmosphere.

However, next to their oxygen producing capacity, trees make life on Earth livable and therefore, the ecosystem services, i.e the services they provide us that enable and make our life on this earth possible and enjoyable, might more accurately be called “life supporting services”.

Ecosystem services provided by trees and urban forests can be summarized as:

  • Regulating temperatures through evapotranspiration

  • Providing shade and wind shield

  • Filtering air pollutants through capturing fine particles on leaves

  • Sequestering, i.e., binding carbon from the air to use for tree growth

  • Managing and filtering rainwater, infiltrate stormwater, groundwater recharge

  • Stabilizing soils and maintain soil health through e.g., soil aeration, cycling nutrients across soil

  • Prevent erosion by holding onto soil particles

  • Providing food and shelter for living organisms, including humans

  • Improving urbanites’ well-being by facilitating possibilities for contact with nature, and providing aesthetic pleasure

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