Help the cities
Planting 20 percent more trees in our megacities would double the benefits of urban forests, like pollution reduction, carbon sequestration and energy reduction, according to a study in Ecological Modelling. The authors of the study, which was carried out at Parthenope University of Naples in Italy, say city planners, residents and other stakeholders should start looking within cities for natural resources and conserve the nature in our urban areas by planting more trees. Their work has been selected by an international scientific committee to be given the Atlas award.
Nearly 10 percent of the world's population live in megacities - cities of at least 10 million people. While those people often rely on nature outside of the city for their food and recreation, nature within the city in the form of urban forests can provide enormous benefits. An urban forest contains the single tree in someone's back yard, the row of trees along a street or a wooded area in a public park; joining these areas with additional trees extends the size of the urban forest.
Many famous examples of urban forests in the megacities were studied, from Central Park in New York City to St. James' Park in London and Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City. On average, about 20 percent of the area of each of the world's megacities is urban forest today. But the new study reveals that a further 20 percent could be transformed into forest - something that would change residents' lives for the better.
"By cultivating the trees within the city, residents and visitors get direct benefits," explained Theodore Endreny, Ph.D., PH, PE, lead author of the paper and now professor of the Department of Environmental Resources Engineering at the State University of New York ESF campus. "They're getting an immediate cleansing of the air that's around them. They're getting that direct cooling from the tree, and even food and other products. There's potential to increase the coverage of urban forests in our megacities, and that would make them more sustainable, better places to live."