With the climate crisis literally heating up, a crucial question is how we can keep ourselves cool. An important aspect of this issue is how we effectively cool our cities. Many cities are big concrete deserts, that can heat up a lot more than their surroundings. This is not only annoying for each citizen, but also a health hazard and cause higher energy consumption because it makes air conditioning more necessary.
An important tool to keep our cities cool is smart city design. And as so often, nature already has a solution on hand. Everyone, who has ever wandered through the forest, is probably aware that tree cover has a cooling effect. While it might be scorching hot in the burning midday sun of summer, the forest always offers a refreshing refuge from the heat. In city design however, many have not taken this effect serious enough. City planners universally accept the cooling effect and importance of green spaces, but often disregard which kind of green space has the biggest impact.
Trees cool cities most effectively
A new study has now proven that green space does not equal green space. All green spaces are good and cool down their surroundings. But trees are more effective than open spaces. They reduce urban temperatures by up to 12°C, which is 2-4 times more than treeless spaces.
This once again shows us that we have to rely on natural solutions for the problems that we have created ourselves. In the last centuries, we have removed forests all over the world in incredible amounts. Now, everyone is trying to turn around this trend because we have finally understood how important trees are. They can provide benefits in all kinds of conditions. Wild forests are biodiversity hotspots, carbon sinks and unique ecosystems adapted to their location. Managed forests balance human demands and natural values. And urban forests cool cities, filter the air, create recreational spaces and host urban biodiversity.