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When it comes to urban trees, more isn’t always better

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Bloomberg or enjoy below

🗞️ Driving the news: In the wake of record-breaking heat during the summer of 2023, urban trees have gained attention for their ability to offset high temperatures
While cities like Cedar Rapids and New York City have set ambitious tree-planting targets, the emphasis has often been on quantity over quality

🔭 The context: Traditional tree planting has been based on beautification and economic development
• This has resulted in unequal tree distribution, with wealthier areas having more tree cover than lower-income neighborhood

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Climate change has intensified the importance of strategic tree planting, which can provide shade and combat urban heat
• A "more is better" approach may not be sufficient; the focus should be on the strategic placement of trees for maximum impact

⏭️ What's next: Tools like "Tree Folio NYC", developed by Cornell University, use high-resolution data to simulate and quantify the shading benefits of trees
• Going forward, cities should make use of such tools to understand the local effects of tree canopies, ensuring trees are planted where they can provide the most benefit

💬 One quote: "Heat vulnerability is a citywide problem, but it is experienced locally... An urban tree should be thought of as a part of a distributed shading infrastructure." (Alexander Kobald, researcher at ETH Zurich)

📈 One stat: In the past, large tree planting initiatives have resulted in thousands of wasted saplings, exemplifying the need for a strategic approach

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