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Tree planting (urban forestry/urban trees), parks and (semi) natural urban green areas 

Greening cities is a transversal solution to numerous urban challenges, not only to support the transition towards climate neutrality, but also to improve biodiversity, social justice and resilience. Greening cities can include many diverse solutions, among them tree planting and the development of parks and natural urban green areas. 


Tree planting and urban forest 

Planting street trees, single line trees or group of trees, as well as trees in urban parks or urban forests trees represents an effective solution to maximize carbon capture and sequestration. It also contributes to regulating microclimate in dense urban areas, supporting water infiltration, and providing aesthetic, health and well-being benefits to citizens. Planting a diverse mix of tree species provides more diverse habitats for more animal species. Diversity also ensures that the urban forest is better prepared for pests or diseases which could eradicate an entire species of trees and severely affect other species in the ecosystem (see for example urban forest solutions in ClearingHouse). 


Parks and natural Urban Green Areas (UGA) 

While trees are an important component of parks and natural urban green areas, these areas also include other features to boost cultural and active recreation activities, such as sport playgrounds, benches and rest areas, and thematic and therapeutic gardens (see for example the solutions in the group of re-naturing urbanization in URBAN GreenUP). 

Urban green area, Izmir, Turkey. URBAN GreenUp. Source: https://www.urbangreenup.eu/#lg=1&slide=3  


While the World Health Organisation recommends all cities to guarantee access to UGA within 300 metres from residents’ houses, this is still far from being reached in many EU cities [1]. The benefits related to the re-design and improvement of existing parks and UGA or to the development of new UGA are related to all the spheres of human health and wellbeing ranging from metabolic disease to better cognitive development to increased psychological wellbeing [2].  


Parks and UGA should be designed as multifunctional areas and this may call for participatory processes to co-design spaces and features to better respond to the needs of diverse target groups, including vulnerable groups, living in the city (see for example stakeholder and citizen engagement approach in UNaLab). 

Co-creation of UGA and NBS in Eindhoven, Netherlands. UNaLab. Source: https://unalab.eu/system/files/2020-02/d22-co-creation-workshop-report2020-02-17.pdf. 




While trees and parks can be considered largely available on the market and mature to be implemented everywhere, it is crucial to reflect how to properly plan and design these kind of solutions, tailoring them to various contexts. Specific expertise is needed in park design, participatory processes, and in deciding which trees to plant, including in relation to future scenarios of climate conditions, for example. Public acceptance and care of UGA are crucial for effective implementation. 

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BiodiversityClimate resilienceGreen areasHealthNature based solutionsCarbon capture
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