Key messages

  • Since 2008 and for the first time in history more than 50% of the world’s population lives in towns and cities. This percentage is expected to swell to 70% by 2050.
  • Well managed, trees and forests in and around urban areas make cities economically, socially and environmentally more sustainable.
  • A forested city with a good balance between green and grey infrastructure becomes a resilient city in terms of mitigation and adaptation to climate changes. By sequestering carbon dioxide and providing shade, trees help reduce pollution, decrease the “heat island” effect, and cool the urban environment.
  • In addition to improving the quality of urban environments, forests in cities mitigate the effects of severe weather events by shielding buildings and roads from strong winds and flooding, and by reducing the risk of landslides.
  • By cooling the environment, reducing pollution and providing green areas and parks, urban forests improve physical and psychological well-being of citizens and help in reducing stress, obesity, risk of cardiovascular diseases and, consequently, public health costs.
  • Properly planned and managed, urban forests play an important role in local biodiversity conservation. Green corridors and urban parks are crucial in conserving biodiversity of the natural areas surrounding the city and reduce the impact of urbanization on the natural landscape.
  • Good management of urban forests creates new job opportunities for the city-dwellers as well as new incomes for the city. The aesthetic value of a green city increases land and property values, and attracts tourists and businesses to the city.
  • Planting trees in and around cities help fight hunger, as well as reduce poverty and malnutrition in poorest areas. Trees are a source of food and non-wood products that can be either directly consumed/used or sold, generating new incomes and improving food security. 


Infographic | Why should we plant trees in cities? 1 June 2016 Large urban trees are excellent filters for urban pollutants and fine particulates. Trees can provide food, such as fruits, nuts and leaves. Spending time near trees improves physical and mental health by increasing energy level and speed of recovery, while decreasing blood pressure and stress. Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save energy used for heating by 20–50%. Trees provide habitat, food and protection to plants and animals, increasing urban biodiversity...planting trees today is essential for future generations! [more]
Optimizing trees and forests for healthy cities 20 August 2014 Developing guidelines for decision and policy makers [more]
Trees connecting people in action together 23 July 2014 Developing guidelines for decision and policy makers: trees and forests for healthy cities [more]
Sustainable Natural Resources Management in Africa’s Urban Food and Nutrition Equation 1 March 2014 Urban and peri-urban forestry as a valuable strategy towards African urban sustainable development. Published in Nature & Faune , Volume 28, Issue 2, Page 21-26 [more]



Greening cities can greatly improve the Indian urban life and contribute to climate change mitigation

Field projects

FAO promotes a green vision for all cities and supports member countries and their cities in responding to their own priorities according to their reality. The Urban and Peri-Urban Forestry Programme of the Forestry Department, together with the Food for the Cities multi-disciplinary initiative (FCIT), participate to this vision by putting information within reach; sharing policy expertise; providing a meeting place for nations; and bringing knowledge to the field. 



last updated:  Monday, October 17, 2016