Importance, Utilization and Health of Urban Forests: A Review

Alexandra D. SOLOMOU, Eleni T. TOPALIDOU, Rafaelia GERMANI, Apostolia ARGIRI, George KARETSOS


Urbanization and development of cities are rapidly increasing across the world and urban forests constitute important tools that maintain the basic environmental and ecological functions of cities on which plant, animal and human existence depend. This paper presents a literature review on importance, utilization and health of urban forests that are important in providing ecosystem services for the sustainability of cities. Analysis of the literature from the main academic resources databases indicates that urban forest is a dynamic system which includes trees, shrubs, green space, soil and water that supports them. Urban forests provide many functions, services and benefits which are needed for the sustainable development of urban areas. In addition, health and appearance of trees’ composition are the most important factors in determining a city’s visual image and quality of life. Thus, urban forests are an important component of an ecosystem in any community development. Furthermore, management of urban forests can increase their potentials and therefore their functions, services and benefits. Green infrastructure and ecosystem services are the most efficient tools that cities can utilise to remain healthy, robust and liveable. Hence, the planners, architects, engineers, foresters, agriculturists and all those involved in decision making should be utilized the present literature review and incorporate the concept of urban forest in their  plans and programs so as to achieve the sustainability of cities.


benefits; ecosystem; environment; functions; services; urban areas

Full Text:



Adams GC, Jacobi WR (2016). Cytospora canker of hardwoods. USDA Forest Service RMRS-General Technical Reports 335:9-93.

Akbar KF, Ashraf I, Shakoor S (2014). Analysis of urban forest structure, distribution and amenity value: a case study. The Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences 24(6):1636-1642.

Angelstam P, Dönz-Breuss M (2004). Measuring forest biodiversity at the stand scale. An evaluation of indicators in European forest history gradients. Ecological Bulletins 51:305-332.

Annesi T, Calienno L, Picchio R, De Simone D, Lo Monaco A (2015). Degradation of some technological features in the wood of ornamental species caused by Inonotus rickii (Pat.) Reid. Drewno 58(195):5-18.

Barnes I, Kirisits T, Akulov A, Chhetri DB, Wingfield BD, Bulgakov TS, Wingfield MJ (2008). New host and country records of the Dothistroma needle blight pathogens from Europe and Asia. Forest Pathology 38(3):178-195.

Beckerman J (2014). Leaf diseases of landscape trees and shrubs. Purdue Extension BP-143-W, Purdue University. Retrieved 2018 October 10 from

Bowler D, Buyung-Ali L, Knight T, Pullin A (2010). A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health 10(1):456.

Bolund P, Hunhammar S (1999). Ecosystem services in urban areas. Ecological Economics 29(2):293-301.

Botelho LLR, Cunha CCA, Macedo M (2011). O metodo da revisao integrativa nos estudos organizacionais. Gestao e Sociedade 5:121-136.

Chiesura A (2004). The role of urban parks for the sustainable city. Landscape and Urban Planning 68(1):129-138.

Chiwa M, Kim DH, Sakugawa H (2003). Rainfall, stemflow, and throughfall chemistry at urban-and mountain-facing sites at MT, Gokurakuji, Hiroshima, Western Japan. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 146(1-4):93-109.

Christopoulou O, Serafeim P, Minetos D (2007). Peri-urban and urban forests in Greece: Obstacle or advantage to urban development? Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal 18(4):382-395.

Ciecko L, Tenneson K, Dilley J, Wolf K (2012). Seattle’s forest ecosystem values analysis of the structure, function, and economic benefits. USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station: Portland. Retrieved 2018 October 2 from pdfs/FEVSeattlePublicReport-20120830-final.pdf.

Cohen P, Potchter O, Matzarakis A (2013). Human thermal perception of coastal Mediterranean outdoor urban environments. Applied Geography 37:1-10.

Colding J, Elmqvist T, Lundberg J, Ahrné K, Andersson E, Barthel S, … Tengο M (2003). The Stockholm urban assessment (SUASweden). Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Sub-Global Summary Report, Stockholm.

Cornelis J, Hermy M (2004). Biodiversity relationships in urban and suburban parks in Flanders. Landscape and Urban Planning 69(4):385-401.

Dimoudi A, Nikolopoulou M (2003). Vegetation in the urban environment: microclimatic analysis and benefits. Energy and Buildings 35(1):69-76.

Doick KJ, Peace A, Hutchings TR (2014). The role of one large greenspace in mitigating London’s nocturnal urban heat island. Science of the Total Environment 493:662-671.

Fernandez-Juricic E (2004). Spatial and temporal analysis of the distribution of forest specialists in an urban-fragmented landscape (Madrid, Spain). Implications for local and regional bird conservation. Landscape and Urban Planning 69(1):17-32.

Ferrini F, Fini A (2010). Sustainable management techniques for trees in the urban areas. Journal of Biodiversity and Ecological Sciences 1(1):1-20.

Fraedrich BR (2009). Recognition and treatment. Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories Technical Report.

Ganley RJ, Bulman LS (2016). Dutch elm disease in New Zealand: impacts from eradication and management programmes. Plant Pathology 65(7):1047-1055.

Georgi JN, Dimitriou D (2010). The contribution of urban green spaces to the improvement of environment in cities: Case study of Chania, Greece. Building and Environment 45(6):1401-1414.

Gustafsson L (2002). Presence and abundance of Red-listed plant species in Swedish forests. Conservation Biology 16(2):377-388.

Haines-Young RH, Potschin M (2008). England’s terrestrial ecosystem services and the rationale for an Ecosystem Approach. Project NR0107. Retrieved 2018 October 13 from cem/pdf/NR107_FTR_080108.pdf.

Halofsky JE, Andrews-Key SA, Edwards JE, Johnston MH, Nelson HW, Peterson DL, … Williamson TB (2018). Adapting forest management to climate change: The state of science and applications in Canada and the United States. Forest Ecology and Management 421:84-97.

Hansmann R, Whitehead I, Krajter Ostoić S, Živojinović I, Stojanovska M, … Barstad J (2016). Partnerships for urban forestry and green infrastructure delivering services to people and the environment: a review on what they are and aim to achieve. South-East European Forestry 7(1):9-19.

Himelick EB (1997). Disease stresses of urban trees. Weeds Trees & Turf, Gen. Tech. pp 113-125.

Jacobi WR (2013). Honeylocust diseases. Gardening Series, Diseases. Colorado State University Extension.

Jansson M (2014). Green space in compact cities: the benefits and values of urban ecosystem services in planning. The Nordic Journal of Architectural Research 26(2):139-160.

Jose GVH, Karina P, Patricia H (2018). Urban green spaces as a component of an ecosystem functions, services, users, community involvement, initiatives and actions. International Journal of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources 8(1):555-730.

Kabisch N, Qureshi S, Haase D (2015). Human-environment interactions in urban green space. A systematic review of contemporary issues and prospects for future research. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 50:25-34.

Kehr R (2016). Aspects of urban tree pathology. In: Roloff A (Ed). Urban Tree Management for the Sustainable Development of Green Cities. Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell pp 58-77.

Kim G (2016). Assessing urban forest structure, ecosystem services, and economic benefits on vacant land. Sustainability 8(7):679.

Konijnendijk C, Annerstedt M, Maruthaveeran S, Nielsen A (2013). Benefits of urban parks: a systematic review. A report for IFPRA. Ifpra. Retrieved 2018 October 3 from parkbenefits.pdf.

Konijnendijk CC (2003). A decade of urban forestry in Europe. Forest Policy and Economics 5(3):173-186.

Lakatos F, Mirtchev S, Mehemeti A (2014). Hand book of major forest pests in Southeast Europe. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Pristina pp 71-100.

Luchi N, Ghelardini L, Belbahri L, Quartier M, Santinia A (2013). Rapid detection of ceratocystis platani inoculum by quantitative real-time PCR assay. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 79(17):5394-5404.

Magasi LP (1995). Insects and diseases of the urban forest in the Maritimes. Journal of Arboriculture 21:21-24.

MEA (2005). MEA - Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Michopoulos P, Baloutsos G, Economou A, Samara C, Thomaidis NS, Grigoratos Th (2007). Nutrient cycling and status in an urban pine forest in Athens, Greece. Plant and Soil 294(1):31-39.

Molla M (2015). The value of urban green infrastructure and its environmental response in urban ecosystem: A literature review. International Journal of Environmental Sciences 4(2):89-101.

Mörtberg U, Wallentinus HG (2000). Red-listed forest bird species in an urban environment – assessment of green space corridors. Landscape and Urban Planning 50(4):215-226.

Nowak DJ (1994). Air pollution removal by Chicago’s urban forest. In: McPherson EG, Nowak DJ, Rowntree RA (Eds). Chicago’s Urban Forest Ecosystem: Results of the Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report NE-186, Radnor, PA pp 63-81.

Nowak D, Greenfield E, Hoehn R, Lapoint E (2013). Carbon storage and sequestration by trees in urban and community areas of the United States. Environmental Pollution 178:229-236.

O’Brien L, De Vreese R, Kern M, Sievänen T, Stojanova B, Atmis E (2017). Cultural ecosystem benefits of urban and peri-urban green infrastructure across different European countries. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 24:236-248.

Olsen MW (1999). Diseases of urban plants in Arizona. Corporative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona pp 1-28.

Paap T, Burgess TI, Wingfield MJ (2017). Urban trees: bridge-heads for forest pest invasions and sentinels for early detection. Biological Invasions 19(12):3515-3526.

Patarkalashvili TK (2017). Urban forests and green spaces of Tbilisi and ecological problems of the city. Annals of Agrarian Science 15(2):187-191.

Pautasso M, Aas G, Queloz V, Holdenrieder O (2013). European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) dieback – A conservation biology challenge. Biological Conservation 158:37-49.

Phillips DH, Burdekin DA (1982). Diseases of forest and ornamental trees. The Macmillan Press Ltd, London, United Kingdom pp 435.

Plexida S, Solomou A, Papadouli K (2014). Benefits of urban green spaces in a Mediterranean city. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing pp 1-53.

Rosenzweig C, Solecki W, Romero-Lankao P, Mehrotra S, Dhakal S, Bowman T, Ibrahim S (2018). Climate Change and Cities: Second Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network. In: Rosenzweig C, Solecki W, Romero-Lankao P, Mehrotra S, Dhakal S, Ali Ibrahim S (Eds). Climate Change and Cities: Second Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Rosenzweig C, Solecki WD, Hammer SA, Mehrohtra S (2011). Climate change and cities: first assessment report of the urban climate change research network. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge pp 312.

Rowe DB (2011). Green roofs as a means of pollution abatement. Environmental Pollution 159(8-9):2100-2110.

Roy S, Byrne J, Pickering C (2012). A systematic quantitative review of urban tree benefits, costs, and assessment methods across cities in different climatic zones. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 11(4):351-363.

Rupprecht CDD, Byrne JA (2014). Informal urban greenspace: a typology and trilingual systematic review of its role for urban residents and trends in the literature. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 13(4):597-611.

Sæbø A, Janhall S, Gawronski SW, Hanslin HM (2017). Urban forestry and pollution mitigation. In: Ferrini F, Konijnendijk van den Bosch C, Fini A (Eds). Routledge Handbook of Urban Forestry. Abingdon, UK, Routledge.

Sanagorski L, Trulock A, Smith J (2016). Armillaria Root Rot (also known as Mushroom Root Rot, Shoestring Root Rot, Honey Mushroom Rot). Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, ENH1217 pp 1-5.

Solomou AD, Papadouli K, Plexida S, Kostopoulos A, Akrivou E (2014). Promoting and preserving biodiversity in urban green spaces in a city of central Greece. EFUF, 3-7 June 2014, Lausanne, Switzerland pp 137.

Sturrock RN, Frankel SJ, Brown AV, Hennon PE, Kliejunas JT, Lewis KJ, Worral JJ, Woods AJ (2011). Climate change and forest diseases. Plant Pathology 60:133-149.

Tainter FH, Baker FA (1996). Principles of forest pathology. John Wiley and Sons, New York pp 832.

Tallis H, Polasky S (2009). Mapping and valuing ecosystem services as an approach for conservation and natural resources management. The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology: Annals of the New York Academy of Science 1162:265-283.

Tattar TA (1989). Diseases of shade trees. Academic Press pp 1-391.

Tomlinson I, Potter C, Bayliss H (2015). Managing tree pests and diseases in urban settings: the case of Oak Processionary Moth in London, 2006-2012. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 14(2):286-292.

UN-Habitat (2011). Cities and climate change: global report on human settlements, United Nations Human Settlements 2011. Programme, Earthscan, London pp 300.

Wolf KL (2010). Active living – A literature review. In: Green Cities: Good Health. College of the Environment, University of Washington.

Wiseman E, King J (2012). i-Tree ecosystem analysis Roanoke. College of Natural Resources and Environment: Blacksburg, VA, USA pp 27.

Woods AJ, Martín-García J, Bulman L, Vasconcelos MW, Boberg J, La Porta N, Diez J (2016). Dothistroma needle blight, weather and possible climatic triggers for the disease’s recent emergence. Forest Pathology 46(5):443-452.

Word Cloud (2018). Word Cloud. Retrieved 2018 November 3 from

Ziller WG, Hunt RS (1977). Lophodermium needle cast of pines in nurseries and plantations. Forestry Canada, Forest Insect and Disease Survey, Forest Pest pp 1-4.

Zoeller RF (2009). Lifestyle in the prevention and management of cancer: physical activity. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 3(5):353-361.


June 1, 2018: Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca in Scopus ElsevierCiteScore 2017=0.78,Horticulture; Agronomy and Crop Science; Plant Science