The Amazing, Little-Known Benefits Of Trees Are Motivating England To Plant More

Organizers hope to grow three million new trees in the greater Manchester area.

Over the next 25 years, a new project aims to grow a tree for every man, woman and child in greater Manchester. That grand total would amount to more than three million trees planted in and around the English city. The project, dubbed "Manchester, City of Trees," was launched in November of 2015 and is being led by The Oglesby Charitable Trust and Community Forest Trust (CFT). It hopes to help improve air quality, reduce stress and combat climate change all while adding more aesthetically-pleasing greenery to the city. 

Lea Sloan, the vice president of communications for American Forests, told A Plus in an email that programs like these are incredibly successful at raising awareness and knowledge of the importance of trees and the incredible benefits they have, particularly for people living in cities. 

"Many people do not know that it takes two trees to produce the oxygen that they breathe every day," Sloan said. "That trees clean our air and water. That people are healthier when they live in an environment with trees – rates of asthma and attention deficit disorder are lower. Students are more successful. Rates of healing are faster. There is less crime and social violence."


The city of Manchester's goals include putting more trees not just along streets, but in city gardens, connecting woodlands in the area, and raising public awareness about the importance and benefits of having trees. 

Trees can reduce the number of pollutants in the air, an important objective for any city. Trees also increase people's desire to exercise and reduce noise pollution, something any city dweller would probably support. Increased numbers of trees in a city have also been shown to reduce stress, alleviate depression and improve cognitive function. If it sounds a bit far-fetched, you should know these benefits have been backed by several studies on the topic.

"We felt there needed to be a bit more TLC given to existing habitats," City of Trees director Tony Hothersall told the BBC. "The reason for that is all the benefits trees and woodlands provide to society."

The City of Trees organizers are also working  to improve kids' connections to the world around them. They host events and work with schools to promote relationships between humans, the woodlands and wildlife across England. 

Hotherstall laid out their main objectives in addition to planting millions of trees..

"We are very much focused on bringing existing woodland into management because there is no point in planting new woodland if you can't manage what you've got already," he told the BBC. "Finally, we want to engage people a lot more in their natural environment; in planting trees; in managing areas; in understanding more about the benefits that trees and woodlands bring to our society."

If they are successful, people in Manchester could see an improvement in everything from their mental health to how storm waters are filtered (trees help with that, too). According to Sloan, similar million-tree initiatives are underway in New York City and Los Angeles. 

"We believe that if people knew more about what trees do for their health and happiness, they would be stronger advocates for preserving the big, shady trees in their neighborhoods and stand up to pressure from developers to argue the value of preserving (and planting!) trees," Sloan said in an email.

Want to help? You can donate to their cause here.  

Cover photo: Shutterstock / Nikolay Se


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