New research has furthered confirmed findings that trees in urban environments help keep the heat down as urban sprawl and climate change make for harsher summers.
The ABC recently reported on research put out by Western Sydney University which found that two streets in the same suburb could vary greatly in temperature based solely on if they had tree cover, and if so, how much of it they had. Two streets in Parramatta had a temperature difference of several degrees Celsius based on whether they have 10 or 30% tree canopy coverage. The research is also a reminder of some unique problems relating to tree cover in urban environments. Firstly, even within a suburb there are areas that are much hotter than what the local weather reports say. Secondly, a lack of trees didn’t just mean it was hotter during the middle of the day, because asphalt retained heat from daylight hours and put it out night at meaning that residents would be feeling warmer than expected. This echoes National Tree Day’s Tree Report, a collection of research from experts in the field of urban greening, which found that just 5% more tree cover in an urban area could reduce daytime temperatures by 2.3C and that widescale urban greening of cities could reduce them by 8C. With 68% of the world’s population expected to live in urban environments by 2050 the need to make these environments cooler isn’t just one of amenity, but also health and financial stability. Aside from the cost of mitigating heat, felt in the form of electricity bills and retrofitting buildings, it’s also thought that heat stress is one of the greatest causes of deaths related to climate change, so it is hoped that tree planting, among other design initiatives, will help to ensure cooler urban areas and save lives. Moreover, it’s also believed that mass tree planting is an essential part of the effort to reduce the impact of climate change thanks to trees’ ability to sequester carbon dioxide. Combined this all means that there are more reasons than ever to get out in your community as part of National Tree Day, and to encourage your local councils and developers to include trees in their plans.
Positive Action Get involved in a National Tree Day event and plant a native in your local area. Donate to the National Tree Day Seedling Bank program to help give others the resources they need to plant trees.
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