We need trees more than ever, but will that be enough?

Shady trees do wonders for cities, people and the climate. But are they enough to make a difference now? Trees aren’t the only form of urban greening, so what else can we do?

As the climate warms, tree-planting is an obvious and attractive solution. But these initiatives can take 30 years or more to bear fruit, and there’s often a lot that stands in the way of greening our towns. This article featuring Dr Lucy Richardson discusses why we need trees in our cities, why that’s so hard to implement, and what else we can do.

Many of us understand the dire need for urban greening. With careful thought, it has myriad benefits.

Tree cover dampens urban heat island effect. This is when city centres tend to be hotter on average than surrounding areas. This is due to them having more roads and large buildings made of materials (like concrete, glass and steel) that capture heat from the sun. As we both develop and densify city centres, and continue building out suburban sprawl, this effect will only increase.

Greener areas also do wonders for air quality, mental health, and the numerous other creatures who use them as habitats and refuge. Even more so if they’re biodiverse and meant to last.

But we’ve talked about the benefits of trees in our towns at length before. Still, given obstacles such as time and policy, relying solely on tree planting projects won’t cut it. However, tree planting isn’t the only way to go about urban greening.

“We can’t just green up everywhere and then hope that’s going to solve it, because it won’t.”

Dr Lucy Richardson

What we need is community action. Sometimes larger scales like a whole city’s, state’s or country’s planning takes time and leaves out key details. So it’s up to local governments and communities to take charge. Or, legislation could

We also need other solutions like permeable pavements and water sensitive urban design. We can incorporate natural systems into our urban design. Things like rain gardens and wetlands can be carbon sinks while helping with stormwater drainage.

And then there are green roofs and living walls. Living or green walls are vertical gardens on the sides of buildings. A green roof is, of course, a very similar strip of plants across the roof the of building. These innovations are beautiful and can make a huge, long-term difference. However, they may not currently be economically viable. More developments or incentives could be brought in to support these solutions.

It takes everyone and a range of initiatives to make a difference. There is no cure-all for climate change.

Richardson closes the article by saying that even if every apartment or household had a window box garden, it would make a difference. Every little helps.

For details and the full article, click here.

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