In the cold of winter you might not be thinking of the nice hot summer days as a negative thing. In the winter when temperatures get really low people suffer from hypothermia or worse, whereas in heat they can suffer from heat stroke or worse. When it comes to the heat there’s a nice and simple solution of planting trees.
In urban environments tree coverage can literally save lives by having a minium of 30% of urban space shaded by trees. Not only will the trees reduce heat in their immediate area they will provide cleaners air and a nicer place to be.
We found substantial variation in UHI death rates across European cities. In 2015, Gothenburg in Sweden recorded no premature UHI deaths, while urban heat was responsible for 32 premature deaths per 100,000 people in the Romanian city Cluj-Napoca.
The cities with the highest UHI death rates were in southern and eastern Europe. Most of these cities generally had low tree coverage and recorded the highest UHI effect.
Just 3.3% of Thessaloniki in Greece is covered by trees, resulting in urban temperatures 2.8? higher than the surrounding area. By contrast, 27% of Gothenburg is covered by trees, delivering an UHI effect of just 0.4?.
Overall, southern European cities will benefit most from increasing their tree cover. Our model estimates that Barcelona could reduce its UHI death rate by 60% by meeting the 30% tree coverage target.
It’s clear that being around nature is good for one’s health, but why? Researchers have been looking into the physiological reasons for the benefits of nature and multiple reasons have been found. Being in nature is good for you in many tiny ways that culminate into a big benefit to your immune system. Everything from a small house plants to large trees in local parks helps your immune system function better.
Be comforted knowing that you can improve your health (and other’s) by just helping plants grow.
In built environments, trees and landscaping may promote health not only by contributing positive factors like phytoncides but also by reducing negative factors.Air pollutionis associated with myocardial inflammation and respiratory conditions (Villarreal-Calderon et al., 2012).High temperaturescan cause heat exhaustion, heat-related aggression and violence, and respiratory distress due to heat-related smog formation (Anderson, 2001;Akbari, 2002;Tawatsupa et al., 2012). Andviolenceaffects physical and mental health (e.g.,Groves et al., 1993). Vegetation filters pollutants from the air (although see Table 2 in the Supplementary Materials for details), dampens the urban heat island (e.g.,Souch and Souch, 1993), and appears to reduce violence (Table 2 in the Supplementary Materials for review).
Forests make for naturally wonderful carbon sinks and thanks to a myriad of efforts we should see reforestation efforts grow over the next few years. This is all good to witness and we can all help by planting a tree. There are ways to tend to a forest for maximum carbon capture which scientists are hoping to perfect. It’s one thing to have a forest and it’s an even better thing to have a resilient high-quality forest which attracts a diversity of animals.
There are a number of ways that we can ensure new forests are resilient to these impacts. First, having adiversity of species with a wide variety of traitsin the forest landscape reduces the risk that a single event will wipe out large parts of the ecosystem. This is because tree species have different resistances and vulnerabilities.
For example, pests and diseases are likely to migrate as the climate changes. In a single-species plantation, that could wipe out the whole forest. But with many different species in the area, parts of the forest will be resilient.
We should also plant and introducespecies that are adapted to the future climatic conditionsprojected for the area. For example, if climate models project a drier climate with increased droughts, then including native species with tolerance to drought would increase the chances of that forest staying resilient, and therefore maintaining its carbon store for longer.
Earlier this year a group of scientists released a report that planting 1 trillion trees will essentially undo a decade of human carbon output. Ethiopia is doing its part by planting 350 million trees in just one year. The country is experiencing direct harms from the climate crisis (from deforestation to wildlife loss) and as chosen to plant trees to address those harms. They hope to ultimately plant 4 billion trees by the end of there rainy season!
Monday’s challenge had encouraged citizens in Africa’s second most populous nation to plant 200 million trees in one day. In 2017, India set the world record when around 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million in 12 hours.
Ethiopia’s goal for the whole season is even bigger than that; the national tree planting campaign aims to plant 4 billion trees during “the rainy season” — between May and October — according to a May tweet by Ahmed.
Long ago, when the vikings first arrived in Iceland the land was forested. Something between 25-40% of the country was covered by trees and humans slowly cut down the trees to an extent that was harmful to local ecosystems. Efforts to replant trees in the country have failed since they brought seeds from outside the country and a warming planet hasn’t been friendly to those trees. Now they are using native species to grow their forests and it’s working.