The urban heat island effect is a result of densely populated cities and urban spaces where there are many people, transport, buildings and infrastructure in the same space – without planting producing shade and landscape to counter this effect.
With climate change high on people’s agenda, communities around the world are now asking how we can improve the design of our cities so we can reduce the impacts on our climate. If we don’t change our urban areas, it is estimated that the heat island affect will mean our communities are up to 4 degrees Celsius hotter by the end of this century1.
Landscape is the big driver in creating change. Not only for the environmental benefits, but also for the social and economic benefits, too. Here are some areas we see as most beneficial to creating change in your community.
Strategies for greening our urban spaces
Quality green spaces are becoming increasingly important in reducing the heat island affect. It can also reduce air pollution and excessive noise while improving mental health and wellbeing for residents. Some strategies to improve urban spaces can include:
- Street tree planting
- General landscaping and shading
- Green walls
- Verge gardens
- Green roofs
Site responsive design
Planting for place is an important factor in the success of greening our communities. Selecting plants not only for the climate and location, but also the long-term impacts on infrastructure above and below the ground, is vital to their success. We look at:
- Long term height and width of trees
- Impacts of root systems
- Form of vegetation
- Growth habits and maintenance
- Reliability of species in an area
The key to beating the urban heat island affect is to plant more vegetation. So, what we really have to do is look at where and how we can do this. This takes analysis, knowledge, strategy and creativity. However, by working together many of the obstacles can be overcome. To create a brighter and greener future for us all. If you would like to discuss ways Orterra can assist you in greening your urban space or neighbourhood development, contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.