Key messages

  • Forests and trees store carbon. This helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in and around urban areas.
  • Strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool the air by up to 8 degrees Celsius, increasing thermal comfort and reducing air conditioning needs by up to 30 percent.
  • Trees can protect buildings from cold winds, helping to save energy used for heating by 20-50 percent.
  • Urban trees are excellent air filters, removing harmful pollutants and fine particulates from the air.
  • Trees reduce noise pollution, as they shield homes from nearby roads and industrial areas.
  • Trees in cities can represent an additional source of fruits, nuts, wood, and natural remedies for the local population, either for use in the home or as a source of income.
  • Woodfuel sourced from urban trees and planted forests on the outskirts of cities provide renewable energy for cooking and heating, improving the livelihoods and nutrition security of local communities, while reducing pressures on natural forests and reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Forests in and around urban areas help to filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people. Forests also protect watersheds and prevent flooding by storing water in their branches and soil.
  • Well-managed forests and trees in and around cities provide habitats, food and protection for many plants and animals, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity.
  • Forests in cities and surrounding areas generate tourism, create jobs and encourage city beautification schemes, building dynamic, energetic and prosperous green economies and attracting investment.
  • Urban green spaces, including forests, encourage active and healthy lifestyles, improve mental health, prevent disease, and provide a place for people to socialize.


Forests and sustainable cities More people live in cities than ever before and by 2050, 6 billion people or as much as 70% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas. But rapid urbanization does not need to result in polluted urban sprawl. Trees and urban forests can make our cities greener, healthier and happier places to live. [more]
Benefits of urban trees 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. [more]



Forests and Sustainable Cities: Inspiring stories from around the world Recognizing the importance of the services provided by forests and trees to urban dwellers, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests proposed that the theme for the 2018 International Day of Forests would be “Forests and Sustainable Cities”. Collectively, the stories presented in this publication show that investing in green solutions can pay dividends while increasing the resilience and liveability of urban environments. [more]
Unasylva 250: Forests and sustainable cities Cities need forests. The network of woodlands, groups of trees and individual trees in a city and on its fringes performs a huge range of functions – such as regulating climate; storing carbon; removing air pollutants; reducing the risk of flooding; assisting in food, energy and water security; and improving the physical and mental health of citizens. This edition of Unasylva takes a close look at urban and peri-urban forestry – its benefits, pitfalls, governance and challenges. [more]


More publications

Press releases and editorials

Trees in the city – plaudits for sustainable urban forestry trailblazers 4 February 2020 The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Arbor Day Foundation today announced the first cities to be recognized under the Tree Cities of the World programme, designed to help create more resilient and sustainable cities. [more]
A Great Green Wall for Cities 21 September 2019 The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Director-General Qu Dongyu today announced the Great Green Wall for Cities initiative that aims to support nature-based solutions to climate change. [more]


More press releases

Expert interviews

Innovative urban forestry practices for greener and heathier cities 11 April 2018 Stefano Boeri, architect, urban planner and designer of the “Vertical Forest” in Milan, Italy, explains the integration of new vertical urban forestry practices with more conventional horizontal approaches in a global effort to make cities greener and healthier places to live. [more]
Planting forests and trees: a British national health “green prescription” 10 April 2018 Rachel Stancliffe of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, Oxford, UK, talks about an innovative programme associated with the British national health service, using the natural environment for health benefits. [more]


More interviews


International Day of Forests - Making cities greener, healthier, happier places to live
Greening cities can greatly improve the Indian urban life and contribute to climate change mitigation


last updated:  Thursday, March 4, 2021