Just thinking about a city without trees in the heat of the heat wave compared to a green, wooded city, with shade in its streets, reveals the benefits of urban trees.
It is clear that trees in cities cool us, and it is more than proven that they can help lower the temperature between 2 and 8⁰C. They have a role in the mood of the population, the effect of green on our life is key. They promote urban biodiversity by attracting birds and insects, absorb carbon dioxide, help clean polluted air ... among other benefits.
Many cities in the world already recognize these benefits and act accordingly by maintaining green streets.
A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed an index that uses Google Street View data to quantify the number of trees in large cities on our planet. Is calledGreen View Index, and allows the evaluation and comparison of the green canopy coverage between different cities. One of the main objectives of its creators, who openly offer their tool and the data obtained from the analyzes carried out, is to bring this type of knowledge to all citizens.
“In cities the temperature rises, there are more extreme weather events and continuous air pollution. That is why the well-being of our urban trees is more important today than ever.”Explains Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. "Our index makes it possible to compare cities with each other, encouraging local authorities and communities to take measures to protect and promote more green roofs in our cities”.
Their project is called Treepedia, and it currently collects data from 27 large cities, although they will progressively expand their analysis. Thanks to the maps it collects, the user can immediately locate the greenest areas of the city and compare them with other cities. In the future, anyone will be able to add information about trees to an open source map and interact with the authorities to request that more trees be planted in specific areas.
The cities with the most trees in the world
"The future of cities cannot be one of unsustainable expansion, it should rather be one of tireless innovation", reflects Ratti. Another of the peculiarities of Treepedia is that it only takes into account the trees planted in the streets, not those in urban parks, which appear in white on its maps. Although the researchers consider, of course, parks as an essential component that makes our cities more livable, their objective is to make visible the trees planted in the streets, which often go unnoticed but are a fundamental component to make the urban landscape more livable .
This type of analysis yields interesting data. For example, although we all have London as a very green city, since it is full of huge urban parks, the truth is that its streets do not have too many trees, and of the 27 cities analyzed it ranks only 23rd.
These are the 5 most wooded cities in the world
This Florida megacity is ranked # 1 on the list, with tree coverage (measured by the Green View Index) of 36.1%. The city, which has a population density of 1,283 people per square kilometer, is one of the most populated on the southeastern coast of the United States. Much remains to be done to improve the livability of this large city, which is also characterized by traffic problems on its large avenues.
The tree rate of this mega city, with more than 7,000 inhabitants per square meter, is 29.3%. We are talking about one of the most sustainable cities in the world, in which the authorities have developed an entire mobility plan that increasingly penalizes the use of one's own car and promotes public and shared transport.
The Nordic countries could not be absent from this ranking. The Norwegian capital will be the European Green Capital in 2019 and has a tree cover of 28.8%.
This Australian city obtained a rate of 25.9%. Its authorities have launched an interesting urban regeneration project called Central 2 Eveleigh. Its objective is to break down the barriers produced by the great roads of Sydney to achieve a more livable city and where the pedestrian is the protagonist.
They say that Vancouver is one of the best cities in the world to live. Your good 25.9% tree coverage is sure to have a lot to do with it!
The list goes on with Montreal, Cambridge (Massachusetts), Durban, Johannesburg, Sacramento, Frankfurt, Genoa, Amsterdam, Seattle and Toronto.
Here you can learn more about Treepedia and find out where your city is in terms of urban trees.