How the Urban Tree Canopy Can Save Lives in a Heat Wave

New research reveals the direct link between planting more trees and a reduction in heat-related deaths.

1 minute read

February 6, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Trees

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

A new study published in The Lancet reveals that urban trees can have a direct impact on heat-related deaths. “Of the 6,700 premature deaths attributed to higher temperatures in 93 European cities during 2015, one third could have been prevented, according to the findings.”

“Modeling found that increasing tree cover to 30 percent would shave off 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) locally, on average, during hot summer months.” However, the study notes that “just under 15 percent of urban environments in Europe, on average, are covered by some kind of foliage.”

As extreme heat waves become more common, cities will need to take steps to mitigate the harm and reduce the urban heat island effect. According to Laurence Wainwright of the University of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, “Urban tree planting—on the right scale, in the right places, and under certain other conditions—likely leads to a modest-yet-real reduction in heat-related deaths in many urban areas.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2023 in Phys.org

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