What are urban trees and woodland?

Urban trees and woodland are areas of green cover in towns and cities. They range from street trees to trees in gardens, hedgerows and woods. They have a huge impact on local wildlife, mental and physical health, and pollution levels, while making the places we live in more beautiful.

Urban trees and woodland are often referred to as the ‘urban forest’. It’s a forest with a difference, combining every tree across an urban community. These could be found:

  • along canals and rivers
  • in urban woodlands
  • in parks
  • in domestic or community gardens
  • in school yards
  • along streets
  • in amenity areas.

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML

Key features

Urban trees and woodland are often made up of very hardy species that are resistant to pollution, such as silver birch, sycamore and London plane. The latter even earned its name from its adaptability to city living!

These helpful characteristics of trees in cities and towns have lots of benefits.Thriving urban forests can:

  • keep our towns and cities cool
  • reduce stress and encourage people to spend time outdoors
  • clean the air and reduce pollution
  • reduce the impact of heavy rainfall.


With our woods, green spaces and the wider countryside becoming ever more fragmented, urban woods and trees support a huge range of wildlife.

The whole urban forest forms a crucial lifeline, helping birds, insects and more animals move through the landscape safely, and find food and shelter. All of those gardens, parks and playing fields with trees can act as stepping stones between larger wild places that would be isolated on their own.

Common urban wildlife includes some familiar faces, such as the blackbird and fox, but other species also flourish in built-up areas, like the sparrowhawk and hedgehog.

Explore urban trees and woodland

Urban trees and woodland are just about everywhere in the UK! Just visit your local town or city to enjoy a splash of green among the brick and stone.

Learn how vital urban trees are for local people, wildlife and the environment in our podcast with Adam Shaw and street trees guru Joe Coles.

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML


Sadly, urban trees are under constant threat from development, not to mention disease and climate change. And, as fewer trees are planted in urban areas and as street trees come under threat, it’s more important than ever to fight for these urban heroes.

With 84% of people in the UK now living in urban areas, cultivating our urban forests has never been more important.

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We want to make sure everyone in the UK has the chance to plant a tree. 

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Explore more about urban trees and woods