The trees of Barcelona take center stage in the city's efforts towards improving habitability and health for its growing population.

 

The Challenge

With periods of drought, heat waves, and higher levels of solar radiation, Barcelona faces challenges in ensuring the health of its citizens. By managing its green infrastructure, the city is adapting to climate change while increasing livability for its citizens.

 

The Solution

Barcelona's green infrastructure, specifically its trees, will play a significant role in improving quality of life in the Mediterranean city. With the Master Plan for Barcelona's Trees 2017-2037, the city placed trees at the heart of local policies ensuring the appropriate management of Barcelona's tree heritage. Part of the planning focuses on guaranteeing that 40% of the tree species are adapted to climate change, such as being able to withstand droughts and heat. The plan aims to minimize the urban heat island effect by increasing the tree canopy from today's 5% to 30%, as shade and humidity from vegetation help cool the atmosphere and lower the temperature during the hotter months. Tree pits will be enlarged to better retain rainwater, enabling its use as groundwater resource and compensating for potential flooding issues with impermeable surfaces in the city's urban areas.

 

Environmental Benefits – Trees make attractive habitats for fauna. Increasing the number of trees increases animal biodiversity in the city.

Social Benefits – Green infrastructure has a positive effect on life expectancy and reduces health inequality due to the psychological and physical benefits from being in contact with nature1.

Economic Benefits – The shade and microclimate generated by trees reduce the energy consumed for air conditioning in adjacent buildings, slashing utility bills by $10 million annually.

Health Benefits – Trees improve air quality by eliminating atmospheric pollutants, caused by vehicles and industry. In one year, the city's trees and bushes eliminate more than 305 metric tons of polluting compounds.

 

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 2017 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in five sectors: Energy, Waste, Adaptation, Mitigation and Transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments. You can access the full Cities100 2017 publication online here.