Copyright: CristinaMuraca

Urban trees not just for show

Trees in London are not just for decoration – they are playing an essential role in filtering out pollution particulates from the air. Published this month in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, this is the outcome of the BRIDGE (‘Sustainable urban planning decision support accounting for urban metabolism’) project, which has won over 3 million Euros under the Environment Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Pollution particulates in the air can damage human health and can be a serious problem for asthmatics. The research team, led from the University of Southampton, say that urban trees in London can remove between 850 and 2,000 tonnes of particulate pollution from the air each year and evergreens, like pines and evergreen oaks are the best at removing pollution. The BRIDGE team have created a number of tree planting plans for London and are working with Greater London Authority. More trees could not only reduce the level of pollution in the UK’s capital but also continue to make it a more pleasant city to spend time in.

Although London is an innovative city, it battles with its microclimate – increased temperatues, hotter summers and air quality problems. In 2012, London will host the Olympic Games, further focusing the drive towards sustainability.

The BRIDGE project is coordinated by the Foundation For Research and Technology-HELLAS, Crete in Greece and the consortium includes partners across the EU.

Featured image credit: GagliardiImages via Shutterstock

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Leila Sattary

Leila is a freelance science writer specialising in science funding and research policy. She is a former editor of EuroScientist. She writes for a variety of online and print journals including news and features for Chemistry World, her Lab Rant column for Laboratory News and many more. In her day job she works as a Project Officer at the University of Oxford with particular interest in research policy, knowledge exchange and impact.
Leila Sattary

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