Who Cares about Trees?
The short answer is: We do! And you should too!
Why? Nature and cities do not have to be mutually exclusive; they can coexist. Expanding our urban tree canopy is essential to the vibrancy of Downtown Denver. Each weekend, outdoor enthusiasts escape to the mountains to enjoy nature. Why can’t we bring nature to our City?
Cities can be transformed into green oases through the presence of mature trees. Green spaces in cities can serve as the same escape, closer to home. For example, several global cities are already restoring nature, instead of the city, as the dominant context. Melbourne, Australia, for instance, boosts being a city within a forest. Copenhagen, Denmark has used its St. Kjeld neighborhood as a test site for green infrastructure and is aiming to turn 20% of neighborhood’s paved surfaces into green areas. Denver deserves a front yard as vibrant and evocative as our collective backyard, the Rocky Mountains (Outdoor Downtown Plan, 2017).
That is why we launched the Urban Forest Initiative. This movement is exciting not only for nature-lovers and tree huggers but also for you. It takes a village to grow our urban forest from 4% percent to 10%, and every Denverite should care, from the business-minded individuals to the sports enthusiasts.
Property Owners – Property owners should care about the tree canopy because it will help your bottom line. Large canopy trees around buildings will provide energy savings as well as attract visitors, renters, and companies to the area. Studies have shown that one mature tree can produce the same cooling effects as 10 room-sized air conditioners. Property owners can heighten how much time people spend near their building by providing outdoor space with trees for people to linger. This could also be an incentive for a company to move into a building.
Business Owners – Similar to property owners, tree canopy can help strengthen your bottom line through energy savings and attracting shoppers to the area. Temperature differentials of 5-15 degrees are felt when walking under tree-canopied streets which leads to cooler, happier shoppers who will spend more time and money in the area. Having large canopy trees or outdoor seating areas can set a business apart from others in the areas and, for chain restaurants, other franchises across the country. Since Denver is filled with nature and outdoor enthusiasts, the opportunity to dine outside is chosen frequently. Having shaded outdoor seating would most likely increase business.
For most companies, the health and wellbeing of their employees are essential. Having outdoor space for employees to frequent leads to reduced blood pressure and improved overall emotional and psychological health, i.e. happy employees.
Cyclists – Would you rather cycle down an asphalt street with the hot sun beating overhead or a treelined shaded street? Street trees make cycling a more enjoyable experience and put less strain on the biker by blocking the sun and reducing potential dehydration and sunburn. Treelined streets also slow down vehicular traffic, making sharing the road a safer experience. Building an urban forest would connect miles of trails to support cycling from Downtown to the South Platte River and Cherry Creek.
Entrepreneurs – Entrepreneurs are known for breaking the mold. Until about a decade ago, a green infrastructure was considered an unconventional idea. Now, with substantial research to back it up, green infrastructure is seen as innovative, cost-saving technology that cities would be foolish not to implement. Green infrastructure, including rain gardens, green spaces, and tree canopies has broken the mold and can deliver important value for a city. As innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs should embrace an urban forest and green solutions. Creating a greener, more sustainable city is right up an entrepreneur’s alley.
And the list goes on. Growing our urban forest will bring benefits to the people who live, work and play in Downtown Denver.