How forests can help to build sustainable cities and make them climate-smart

Happy International Day of Forests – and also happy 25th anniversary to European Forest Institute! Check out our new video telling the story how forests can help to build sustainable cities and make them climate-smart.


Urban areas are home to more than half the world’s population. They drive the global economy, but are responsible for more than two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Their importance continues to grow: by 2050 we expect that two-thirds of the global population will live in cities.

As the world continues to urbanize, cities need to play leading role in fighting climate change. They also need to deal with challenges linked to their residents’ increasing demands for water, food, energy and materials.

Wood, trees and forests are essential for sustainable cities
Our forests provide wood, which is the only significant construction material that is renewable and can be grown sustainably. Using wood in construction is one of the most effective carbon sequestration and capture technologies we have. If we replace concrete and steel with wood we can reduce the carbon footprint of a building by around 50%.

Another way to improve the sustainability of cities is to plant trees and urban forests. Trees can cool cities by between 2C and 8C, and if you plant trees near buildings, it can cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by 20.50%. Urban forests also clean the air, reduce flood risk and offer health benefits like lowering stress.

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