Visualizing the Urban Forest



I lifted these hypothetical Before/After images of the Embankment and Parliament Square in London from the Trees and Design Action Group, a group of citizens, professionals and public and private businesses in the United Kingdom whose mission is to raise awareness of the importance of urban forests.

I’m trying to think of something clever and dry to say about the comparison, but I’m coming up empty. It’s so immediately apparent which street anyone would prefer to walk down or look out on from their window — what is left for me to add? These are not the fantasy trees that often have no real chance of long-term success that we see so often on wishful renderings or in casino lobbies. This is a representation of what honest-to-goodness, giant, mature street trees can do to transform a streetscape. It’s… well, it’s amazing.

If you read this blog regularly than you’re already aware of all the great things trees do for us and the many ways we benefit from them. Beyond even those measurable effects, our visceral reaction to the “After” images is notable. The trees’s significance goes well beyond their sustainability, business, and stormwater management benefits, all of which are considerable and, practically speaking, some of the best available arguments in support of urban forests.

While urban landscapes tend to be considered relative to buildings or street layout, trees play an equal (maybe even bigger) role in the experience of a place. Often unnoticed until they’re missing, this element of the built environment quietly influences how we feel about where we are. If you don’t already, try to pay attention to this as you walk around your city or town. Are the streets you’re on places you want to return to, to live, to work? Maybe. Maybe not.

We’d love to see the streets you want to come back to (or don’t) from where you live and play — please share them on our Facebook page!

Images: Trees and Design Action Group

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