Right tree, right place, right reason: understanding species-specific benefits and disbenefits of urban trees

Grantham Scholar Abigail Catterall’s research will help get ‘the right tree in the right place’ through a study of species-specific impact of trees in Sheffield. 

The project

In the UK, councils, organisations and community groups all want to plant more trees in urban areas but currently lack clear guidance on which species they should use. Whilst there has been previous research on the general impacts of urban trees, our understanding of the contribution of different species remains limited. Therefore, the focus of my research will be to look at the species-specific impacts of trees in the Sheffield urban environment. My investigation will use a combination of in-person measurements, map data, health data and citizen science to establish which species have the greatest potential to provide a wide range of benefits. I will also work with Sheffield City Council to consider the long term maintenance needs of different tree species.

If we can better understand the species-specific impacts of trees in urban areas then we can carefully select species that will have the greatest long-term benefit when planted. However, it will also be important to acknowledge that not all impacts from urban trees are positive and to understand the potentially conflicting needs of urban communities and the wider environment. Overall, I hope to help groups that want to plant trees in urban areas to do so in a more informed manner and in a way that will have lasting benefits for urban communities.



Dr Holly Croft

School of Biosciences

Dr Paul Brindley

Department of Landscape Architecture