Trees and Their Benefits: Social, Ecological & Economic Considerations

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Economics, Policy, and Social Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2024 | Viewed by 14479

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA
Interests: invasive species; integrated pest management; forest conservation; trees; tree ecology; insect plant interactions; tree growth; human behavior; urban forestry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Among researchers around the globe, interest in understanding the full spectrum of social, ecological, and economic services that trees provide continues its ascent. To derive benefits from trees (e.g., shade, wood, carbon storage/sequestration, fruit crops, aesthetic value, human health considerations, economic benefits, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat), trees must establish and mature in size. Urban—as well as rural—tree populations are often faced with strenuous conditions that include pest pressures, challenges related to climate change, and even construction injury. Among each of these areas of challenge, as well as the aforementioned benefits, important knowledge gaps remain.

For this Special Issue, we encourage submissions related to formal exploration of these topics that include—but are not limited to—theoretical, empirical, and modeling investigations that employ quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed methodologies related to the following:

  • Tree function and/or performance (growth, survival, mortality, morbidity) assessment in densely populated or remote settings;
  • Understanding of human health considerations and benefits related to trees;
  • Techniques related to protecting and utilizing trees, wood, and wood products in urban and rural settings;
  • Evaluation of the economic contributions of trees;
  • Assessment of factors that inhibit tree performance (pests, construction activities, climate change);
  • Applications of new or emerging technologies.

We hope that this Special Issue provides a forum for novel insights that will advance our understanding of the scale and scope of trees and their affiliated benefits to people and the landscape around them.

Dr. Richard W. Harper
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban forestry
  • tree growth
  • tree survival
  • human health
  • aesthetic values
  • heat island
  • carbon storage/sequestration
  • wood usage
  • fruit crops
  • biodiversity
  • wildlife habitat
  • economic contributions
  • pests
  • construction
  • climate change
  • UAS and new technologies
  • forestry

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 2654 KiB  
Article
Quantifying the Threshold Effects and Factors Impacting Physiological Health Benefits of Forest Exposure
by Bo Yang, Weishuai Ta, Wen Dong, Danping Ma, Jihan Duan, Huajun Lin, Dubin Dong, Jian Chen, Songwei Zeng, Yan Shi, Jianyun Pan and Yuan Ren
Forests 2024, 15(3), 555; https://doi.org/10.3390/f15030555 - 19 Mar 2024
Viewed by 630
Abstract
The growing awareness of the health advantages offered by forests has underscored the significance of forest exposure as an upstream preventive measure against disease. While numerous studies have confirmed the physical and mental health benefits associated with forests, there is still a lack [...] Read more.
The growing awareness of the health advantages offered by forests has underscored the significance of forest exposure as an upstream preventive measure against disease. While numerous studies have confirmed the physical and mental health benefits associated with forests, there is still a lack of quantitative understanding regarding the relationship between forest exposure and physiological health benefits (PHB). Particularly, there is insufficient knowledge about the threshold effects derived from short-term forest exposure. In this study, we propose a PHB threshold model for assessing forest exposure that introduces the concepts of efficiency threshold and benefits threshold. A pilot study was conducted in three typical natural forest sites to validate the proposed model. Electroencephalogram (EEG) was continuously measured as the physiological indicator, while meteorological, environmental, and demographic factors were simultaneously collected. The results show that: (1) the proposed PHB threshold model is applicable in a natural forest environment; (2) despite the longer time required to reach the PHB thresholds, forest exposure yielded more significant and prolonged health benefits compared to urban green spaces; (3) meteorological factors, such as temperature and relative humidity, play a crucial role in impacting the PHB threshold model; and (4) exposure to forests is better for deep thinking and relaxation than urban green spaces. These findings emphasize the potential of forests to offer a respite from the stresses of modern life and promote holistic well-being. Full article
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26 pages, 5496 KiB  
Article
A Simulation Study on the Influence of Street Tree Configuration on Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Concentration in Street Canyons
by Junyou Liu and Bohong Zheng
Forests 2023, 14(8), 1550; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14081550 - 28 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 961
Abstract
Because motor vehicles emit a large amount of PM2.5 pollution, traffic-related emissions have always been an important part of PM2.5 pollution. To better understand the influence of street trees on traffic-related PM2.5 pollution, our study focused on camphor trees, common [...] Read more.
Because motor vehicles emit a large amount of PM2.5 pollution, traffic-related emissions have always been an important part of PM2.5 pollution. To better understand the influence of street trees on traffic-related PM2.5 pollution, our study focused on camphor trees, common evergreen urban street trees in central and southern China. We used ENVI-met for the simulation of PM2.5 pollution and to build a model to show the distribution of PM2.5 pollution along a section of Xinyao North Road in downtown Changsha City in central China. Based on this model, we constructed four other models with different heights, quantities, and distances between street trees, where each model had high feasibility and aimed to determine how these affect the PM2.5 concentration on the designated block. We performed simulations within different time frames in the year. We found that the wind can promote the diffusion of PM2.5 in the street canyon. Too dense a distribution of tall street trees will have a negative impact on PM2.5 concentration in street canyons. A moderate distance between street trees is conducive to the dispersion of pollutants. Because the crown of 5 m high street trees is small, its negative impact on the dispersion of wind and PM2.5 is relatively small, so further increasing the number of 5 m high street trees in street canyons with densely distributed tall street trees will have only a little more negative impact on PM2.5 concentration in street canyons. The PM2.5 concentration in the street canyon is generally better when the street trees are 5 m long, even if the number of 5 m high street trees is relatively large. Although the crown size of 15 m high street trees is larger than that of 10 m street trees, the vertical distance between the canopy of 15 m high street trees and the ground is usually greater than that of 10 m high street trees. The distance between the canopy of 15 m high street trees and the breathing zone is usually greater than that of the 10 m street trees. Longer distances lead to a weakening of its impact on PM2.5. When the 15 m high and 10 m high street trees are more scattered in the street, their effects on the PM2.5 concentration at the height of the breathing zone (1.5 m) are generally similar. Full article
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14 pages, 2520 KiB  
Article
Biocultural Importance of the Chiuri Tree [Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.) H. J. Lam] for the Chepang Communities of Central Nepal
by Yadav Uprety and Hugo Asselin
Forests 2023, 14(3), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14030479 - 27 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4640
Abstract
Major socio-economic changes over the last few decades have reduced Indigenous peoples’ engagement in cultural practices, such as harvesting of forest resources. Nevertheless, some species remain important for culture, subsistence and livelihood, such as the chiuri tree (Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.) H. J. [...] Read more.
Major socio-economic changes over the last few decades have reduced Indigenous peoples’ engagement in cultural practices, such as harvesting of forest resources. Nevertheless, some species remain important for culture, subsistence and livelihood, such as the chiuri tree (Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.) H. J. Lam) to the Chepang people of Central Nepal. Using the cultural keystone species framework, we conducted interviews within Chepang communities to assess the biocultural importance of the chiuri tree. It is central to the Chepang culture, and no other species could provide the same benefits. It also provides food and habitat for a number of wildlife species, including bats, which are themselves culturally important. Strictly observed tree ownership rules, as well as a cultural ban on tree cutting and branch lopping, have so far contributed to chiuri conservation. However, these rules are increasingly less adhered to. Other threats to chiuri sustainability are excessive flower foraging by bees (reducing pollen production) and bat hunting (reducing pollen transport). Further studies are needed to quantify these threats and to adjust forest and wildlife management practices so that the cultural landscape continues to provide multiple benefits to the Chepang people. Our study of the chiuri case attests to the usefulness of the cultural keystone species framework in landscape assessment for management and conservation. Full article
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21 pages, 2400 KiB  
Article
What Promotes Natural Forest Protection and Restoration? Insights from the Perspective of Multiple Parties
by Jinkai Ke, Ruolin Sun, Yifei Ma and Caihong Zhang
Forests 2023, 14(2), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14020339 - 08 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1266
Abstract
The natural forest protection and restoration (NFPR) system is imperfect due to contradictions between the objectives of natural forest protection and the reality of situations, outdated cultivation concepts, conflicting interests among participating parties, and the lack of regulation guarantees and assessment criteria. These [...] Read more.
The natural forest protection and restoration (NFPR) system is imperfect due to contradictions between the objectives of natural forest protection and the reality of situations, outdated cultivation concepts, conflicting interests among participating parties, and the lack of regulation guarantees and assessment criteria. These problems are not only common in China but also in international forest protection. As the NFPR system is more focused on the protection of natural forests, the level of natural forest restoration in China has been poor, with low natural forest quality and forest productivity. At the same time, the value of natural forest ecosystem services does not match the demand of farmers, forest management, and other multiple participating parties. As a result, except for the government, other multiple parties lack the intrinsic motivation to participate in NFPR, ultimately forming a sustainable management dilemma. Under the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, the objective of this research was to explore the influencing factors and outcomes of the participation of multiple parties in NFPR and to construct a multiple parties’ participation mechanism for solving this dilemma. This research found that among external variables, multiple parties’ characteristics, biophysical conditions, attributes of community, and rules-in-use jointly influence and constitute the driving mechanism of multiple parties’ participation in NFPR. The rules-in-use directly impact the participation action scenario and regulate the other three external variables. Various factors and mechanisms in NFPR interact in the action space and produce outcomes that create positive incentives for each external variable, thus promoting the whole mechanism to achieve a virtuous cycle of sustainable management. This study provides a theoretical contribution to understanding the behavior of multiple parties participating in NFPR. Full article
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Review

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22 pages, 1600 KiB  
Review
Street Tree Structure, Function, and Value: A Review of Scholarly Research (1997–2020)
by Alicia F. Coleman, Richard W. Harper, Theodore S. Eisenman, Suzanne H. Warner and Michael A. Wilkinson
Forests 2022, 13(11), 1779; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13111779 - 27 Oct 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3249
Abstract
Street trees are components of the urban forest that receive considerable attention across academic and professional disciplines. They are also one of the most common types of urban tree that people routinely encounter. A systematic review methodology was used to examine contemporary urban [...] Read more.
Street trees are components of the urban forest that receive considerable attention across academic and professional disciplines. They are also one of the most common types of urban tree that people routinely encounter. A systematic review methodology was used to examine contemporary urban street tree research across natural and social science disciplines. The records collected (n = 429) were published between January 1997 and the mid-2020s and were coded for descriptive information (e.g., publishing journal and geography of study areas) as well as emergent focal research areas (e.g., ecosystem services, economic valuation, and inventory methods). From this sample, there has been considerable growth in street tree literature over time and across research themes, especially following major turning points in the field of urban forestry. Regulating ecosystem functions/services of street trees, especially cooling, has had the greatest attention in the literature, but other robust areas of research also exist, including the utility of pruning waste as construction materials, the benefits and disservices to human health and safety, and indicators of environmental (in)justice. Opportunities for future research and implications for research and practice are also discussed. Full article
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Other

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17 pages, 917 KiB  
Systematic Review
Systematic Review of Research on Reality Technology-Based Forest Education
by Seonhye Choi, Siyeon Ha and Jiwon Choe
Forests 2023, 14(9), 1815; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14091815 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 844
Abstract
This study aimed to analyze the effectiveness of reality technology programs in forest education by systematically reviewing prior studies that have verified the effectiveness of reality technology-aided forest education content. Additionally, we checked the current status of reality technology content-based forest-related education. We [...] Read more.
This study aimed to analyze the effectiveness of reality technology programs in forest education by systematically reviewing prior studies that have verified the effectiveness of reality technology-aided forest education content. Additionally, we checked the current status of reality technology content-based forest-related education. We searched for data on forest education using reality technology published until November 2022 in both domestic and foreign web-based academic databases. In total, 117 research papers were identified, and 13 were selected based on the data selection criteria. After systematic analysis, we inferred the following: First, most reality technology-based forest education programs use augmented reality (AR); the software is customized and developed for mobile devices because AR is effective in two-way communication owing to the nature of the technology. Second, forest education showed greater cognitive and affective effects when reality technology was used (cognitive effect: 71.4%; affective effect: 63%) than when it was not used. Third, forest education using reality technology produced more than 90% cognitive and affective effects (cognitive effect: 90%; affective effect: 100%). Therefore, forest education using realistic technology can have a positive effect indoors. Although these results are difficult to generalize, they can be used as basic data for future research on reality technology-based forest education. Full article
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22 pages, 1305 KiB  
Systematic Review
Municipal Forest Program Management in the United States of America: A Systematic Review
by J. Rebecca Hargrave, Richard W. Harper, Brett J. Butler and Jamie T. Mullins
Forests 2023, 14(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14010035 - 24 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1668
Abstract
Municipalities across the United States have varied available resources to manage urban forests, resulting in substantial differences in urban forestry services and outcomes. This article reviews 32 survey-based studies that characterize U.S. municipal urban forest management program dimensions, including program components; needs and [...] Read more.
Municipalities across the United States have varied available resources to manage urban forests, resulting in substantial differences in urban forestry services and outcomes. This article reviews 32 survey-based studies that characterize U.S. municipal urban forest management program dimensions, including program components; needs and barriers; knowledge of and attitudes toward urban forests; and plans and priorities for future management. Such information is critical for agencies that support local urban forest management efforts but has not previously been systematically gathered and condensed. Based on the limited national, regional, and state-level data published in peer-reviewed journals, we find that the number of municipal urban forestry programs appears to be increasing, many communities have at least one tree ordinance, and larger communities are more likely to have an official program. However, evidence suggests that few municipalities have an urban forest inventory or management plan, and most require additional financial, political, public, or educational support. More research on urban forestry program status, needed support, and local knowledge is needed as knowledge gaps remain regarding the influence of metropolitan areas and resident demographics on the presence and extent of municipal urban forestry programs. Additionally, few studies have investigated future municipal urban forestry-related intentions and priorities. Full article
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