Thursday, 2 April 2015

Lancaster Environment Centre does it again!

Those of you who came to our "Trees in the City" conference last spring will remember the excellent presentation given by Professor Barbara Maher of Lancaster University's Environment Centre (we posted an item on the original research here). In it she presented the astonishingly effective benefits of planting a screen of silver birch saplings alongside busy roads to capture particulate pollution (mostly generated by diesel powered cars). 

Poor air quality has been figuring in the news almost weekly in the first few months of this year. As recently as 25th March 2015 reports have been published warning of the very serious consequences of high levels of airborne pollution, namely premature death and the increased risk of stroke (see BBC Health website article here). 

Colleagues of Barbara Maher in the Lancaster Environment Centre have now published a very accessible summary of their considerable research into the complex effects of urban trees on the clearing of air pollution in our cities.

Recommendations are made about the tree species found to have the greatest capacity to improve air quality, without themselves generating polluting VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), namely: 

Common Alder
Field Maple
Norway Maple
Scots Pine
Silver Birch

Whilst we're unlikely to plant Larch or Scots Pine on the streets of Brockley, Silver Birch are already being planted and there's no reason not to consider Alder and Ash too. 

The complete document is available from the LEC's website here