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Using trees to combat extreme heat in cities

Buildings in the distance and trees in the foreground

An OU research project, which will explore how trees and green spaces can reduce the effects of extreme heat in cities, has received funding from the British Academy.

The Urban trees as a nature-based solution for heat-resilient green neighbourhoods project, led by Dr Leslie Mabon, Lecturer in Environmental Systems in the OU’s Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, has received just over £174,000 to run for two years.

Dr Mabon will collaborate with Ming Chuan University and the charity, Sniffer, in the study which will develop an understanding of how urban trees can provide protection against hot weather in both Taipei and Glasgow and look at how they can involve the views of local communities about tree planting in the research.

“Taipei and Glasgow have very different climates and what we know is that Glasgow is not set up to deal with hot weather at a level that is dangerous and we in Glasgow can be quite flippant about hot weather,” said Dr Mabon

“The reality for all of us is that climate change will make everywhere warmer. Taipei is geared up for hot weather and we are hoping we can learn from each other on how to best use street trees as a cooling strategy.”

The outcomes of this project will link up communities and city planners and guide what they need to do.

“Researchers have been considering for years how we can use nature to address climate change,” Dr Mabon added. “The heat dome in North America last year and heatwaves in India have shown us that there is a real urgency now to present new evidence about the issues we face.”

OU co-investigators on this project are: Dr Alice Moncaster (Engineering and Innovation), Dr Jitka Vseteckova and Dr Verina Waights in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies.

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