Exeter has been ranked the ‘greenest’ city in the UK, while Glasgow city center is the least green, according to a new study of 68 UK city centers.
The study compared tree cover greenness, vegetation and park presence, factors that have been linked to positive health, economic, education and crime outcomes.
Researchers from Flinders University, the University of Sheffield, the University of Melbourne and Environmental Protection Authority Victoria assessed urban centers with populations larger than 100,000 people to create a metric of urban ecosystems, vegetation and human health, social equity and biodiversity.
Five cities in southern England took first place: Exeter, Islington (in London), Bristol, Bournemouth and Cambridge. Five in the formerly industrial north had the lowest tier: Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Middlesbrough and Glasgow at the bottom.
‘While previous studies have measured greenery in larger suburban areas, our study focuses on inner cities where people from diverse backgrounds spend a lot of time at work, leisure and shopping,’ said lead author Dr Jake Robinson , European microbial ecologist and Flinders University researcher.
“While people’s lives are enhanced by the greenery of their city, many cities have high tree densities in suburban areas, but not in their city centers.
“Unsurprisingly, urban centers with increased tree and plant cover, public green spaces including parks and sports fields, developed after increased attention to urban planning rather than urban sprawl and industrial growth, and now have lowest in deprivation overall, including in human health metrics.
Urban centers with larger populations had lower tree cover and lower normalized difference in vegetation index, as measured by satellite observations of light absorption and reflection.
These disparities in inner-city greenery across Britain should be incorporated into further urban planning, said co-author Dr Paul Brindley of the University of Sheffield.
“This work could help inform the efforts of local authorities and planners to monitor greening interventions and scale up the greening of city centers more equitably,” he said.
It is predicted that by 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities and towns.
‘The need to reimagine and re-develop our inner cities due to digital shopping technologies and societal changes provides an important opportunity to explicitly consider enhancing inner city biodiversity,’ concluded the research.
In 2017, a E&T The study found that trees were being cut down at an alarming rate in London, with over 10,000 trees removed by council chainsaw crews during the previous year.
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