As climate related issues are on the rise with Birmingham reaching its’ hottest recorded temperature in July 2022, it is important to note the significance of nature in mitigating the damaging effects of climate change. For example, trees on the street provide numerous benefits for the environment such as the lowering of temperatures, pollution and the likelihood of flooding.
Trees have a cooling effect. Trees reduce urban air temperatures through shading the land from the sunlight and transpiration cooling which is when surrounding air is cooled as the leaves release water that evaporates. The shade from trees reduces both the land surface and air temperatures resulting in urban areas with trees being much cooler in comparison to treeless urban areas.
Extreme weather events such as floods and heavy rains are becoming more frequent due to climate change. Trees have the ability to prevent flooding through intercepting rainfall with their canopies and roots, which reduces surface runoff that otherwise would cause damage to roads and buildings. In addition to this, trees can improve water quality by acting like filters that absorb pollutants through their roots, bark and leaves.
Finally, trees are able to reduce air pollution. One way they do this is acting as a physical barrier between the pollutants and people with their leaves that catch particulate matter pollution and this pollution is then washed away. Trees also disperse and dilute the concentrated pollution, which then reduces the amount inhaled by humans. Certain trees are better at reducing air pollution such as conifer trees and this is due to the fact that conifers are evergreen and have dense pine needles for leaves that are better at catching the particulate matter.
Trees have a multitude of ways that help reduce the severity of climate related issues and it is important to remember the significance of integrating them into different environments such as urban cities and maintaining these trees so that not only biodiversity can be conserved but these benefits can help populations through the climate crisis.
Written by, Cindy Hau