A brief follow-up to Jessica’s urban forests post: urban forests have additional benefits to businesses; however this information is, sadly, not widely known.

Other research—in addition to the study by Kathy Wolf that Jessica cited—has found customers were willing to travel farther (hopefully on transit) to reach well-vegetated businesses [1], and the quality of landscaping along approach routes to business districts has also been found to positively influence consumer perceptions [2].

And a study using a detailed pricing model on existing commercial building rents found a clear relationship between quality landscaping and higher office rental rates; quality landscaping (neat, well-groomed, attractive, able to see the business) increased rental rates by 7 percent, as did good building shade [3].

Businesses also experience increased productivity when their employees are exposed to green spaces: Desk workers who can see nature from their desks take 23 percent less time off sick than those who don’t see any green from their windows, and they also report greater job satisfaction [4].

Expanding on this worker satisfaction trend a bit, social and nature researchers Rachel and Steve Kaplan have a theory (attention restoration theory) that “nearby nature” helps alleviate mental fatigue caused by directed attention— the fatigue caused by our brains trying to filter too many competing messages. And others are noticing and quantifying the apparent fact that urban greenery has positive social effects as well.

  • Those are just a few of the benefits provided by urban forests. Some of my research in urban forestry included writing a lit review on all of the benefits of urban trees for a client who—for whatever reason—hasn’t published it. If any of you wishes to follow up on the topic, I’ll send the lit review along in its current draft form (e-mail: [email protected])

    Referenced studies

    [1] Bisco Werner, J.E., Raser, J., Chandler, T.J., and O’Gorman, M. 2002. Trees mean business: a study of the economic impacts of trees and forests in the commercial districts of New York City and New Jersey.New York: Trees New York. 141 pp.

    [2] Wolf, K.L. 2000. Community Image – Roadside Settings and Public Perceptions, University of Washington College of Forest Resources, Factsheet #32.

    [3] Laverne, R.J., Winson-Geideman, K. 2003. The Influence of Trees and Landscaping on Rental Rates at Office Buildings. Journ. Arbor. 29:5 September 2003 pp. 281-290.

    [4] Wolf, K.L. 1998 Urban Nature Benefits: Psycho-Social Dimensions of People and Plants, University of Washington College of Forest Resources, Factsheet #1.