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Home » Environment

Urban forest cleans air better than cutting traffic in climate friendly sydney

Submitted by on November 12, 2015 – 4:24 pm
Sydney - October 11, 2015: Glebe residents Aileen, Jerome and Elyse (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)

Sydney – October 11, 2015: Glebe residents Aileen, Jerome and Elyse (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)

UTS researchers have found that the City of Sydney’s plans to increase tree canopy by 50 per cent could have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution than a reduction in traffic.

The year-long study, in collaboration with the City of Sydney, showed that inner city areas densely populated with trees, such as Glebe, experience reduced air pollution.

“Our results were taken from a number of sites selected for traffic density and amount of canopy cover,” Peter Irga, the study’s lead author said.

“The study showed that areas with a high number of trees led to reduced air pollution as the trees either trap the pollutants or allow them to be removed from the air.

“We were surprised to discover the City of Sydney’s plan to increase current canopy cover by 50 per cent could have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution than a reduction in traffic.”

“We also found that there will be significant community heath improvements in coming years as a result of increased urban vegetation.

“Trees and their canopies can help with the deposition and dispersal of particulate pollination that cause serious respiratory diseases, such as asthma and several types of cancer.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City was committed to increasing the City’s tree canopy by 50 per cent because the benefits are undeniable.

“We’ve planted more than 11,450 new street trees since 2005 to absorb pollution and provide shade,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Street trees and parklands improve our sense of wellbeing and reduce stress, they make our communities a greener, cooler and more beautiful place to live.”

Glebe resident Aileen O’Connor said the suburb’s beautiful leafy streets and green open space was a major drawcard for her when her family moved there with their two young children and dogs a few years ago.

“It’s city living but with pockets of quiet, green, leafy areas where you almost forget you are in an urban space,” Mrs O’Connor said.

“Our house may be small but we make up for the lack of internal space by using the outdoors more. We feel very lucky to live in the heart of the city while enjoying clean air and the sense of wellbeing that comes with living in an urban space surrounded by greenery.

“The children and dogs love to play in the park at the back of our house and it is reassuring to know they are breathing good, clean air. Both children had slight asthma when they were small, so anything that improves air quality is important to me”

CEO Asthma Australia, Mark Brooke said clean air can significantly help people with asthma to breathe better and live well.

“Good, clean air is of absolute benefit to respiratory health,” Mr Brooke said. “Anything that encourages a healthy environment and mitigates air pollution, is welcomed by Asthma Australia.”

Publication: Does urban forestry have a quantitative effect on ambient air quality in an urban environment? P.J. Irga, M.D. Burchett, F.R. Torpy Atmospheric Environment

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Claire Thompson, phone 02 9265 9582 or email cthompson1@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Paul Mackay on 02 9265 9612 or emailpmackay@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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