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Increased plantings can help lower overall temperatures

Over the years, studies have shown the many benefits of having greenery such as trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses on your property and within the surrounding areas. Whether you are looking to add something extra to your homes or simply trying to give a little extra boost to the ecological balance, there’s an upside from these natural enhancements.

To add to the growing list of benefits, a recent study at the University of Waterloo shows that planting native trees and other types of greenery can lower the summer daytime temperatures of an area by an average of 4.5 degrees Celsius over the span of a decade. The research conducted by Jonas Hamberg, PhD candidate with the school of environmental sciences, studied thermal maps from the past 12 years, while also taking advantage of the ECOSTRESS camera mounted on the International Space Station. His goal through the study was to examine how different species of greenery cool the surrounding area.

“We found that with one extra plant species – this is statistical – but if you do have one more plant species, you get a decrease of about 0.3 degrees Celsius. [This] might not sound like a lot but if you have 10, 20, 30 different species, that could be quite a big difference,” said Hamberg. “The more different species you have – but also the different types of [greenery you have will make a difference]. So, if in the lawn you also have chocolate shrubs and you have a maple tree [and] you have an oak tree, all of this sort of adds to the ability to cool.”

Hamberg’s study did not look into whether specific types of greenery had more of an impact with regards to cooling an area, but he hopes to conduct research like this in the future.  While he may not have information on what may add to a cooling effect the best, he does say that planting native trees and plants is the best option for all looking to help lower temperatures.

Don’t worry too much about what you are planting but try focusing on native trees and plants because they are adapted to the conditions of the area. They have had a long evolutionary history and a chance to adapt to the area in which they are planted, Hamberg added with regards to species to plant.

Since starting his work on the study, Hamberg began to take part in planting projects. He says doing these types of things can only add to the decrease in temperatures, while also being a fun activity which allows you to leave feeling satisfied.

Locally, Trees for Woolwich has been running their own series of planting events for the past several years. Their goal of increasing the tree coverage within the region to 30 per cent has seen thousands of trees planted every planting season.

The group focuses on planting native trees in the area adding species of maple, beech, oak, spruce and more to areas across the township.

Inga Rinne, chair of Trees for Woolwich, says the results of the study – which focused on an area in Norfolk County – are probably very close to what we would see in the Woolwich area since Norfolk is not too far from here. She continues to say she has seen an uptick in the number of people who have chosen to plant more greenery on their properties for a number of different reasons.

Taking part in plantings privately really depends where you live, so if you live in an apartment you are probably going to join a tree planting event. But there are people with acres of property who have decided to take on more plantings. I think there has been a real increase with regards to interest on the advantages of trees, said Rinne.

Trees for Woolwich has two plantings coming up later this year. Thanks to COVID-19, the planned events had to be delayed for some time, but they are now back on the calendar for September 26 in Elmira and October 3 in Bloomingdale.

Because of COVID-19 and the restrictions in place by the provincial government, Rinne says they encourage those who want to participate in the event to register ahead of time, in addition to bringing their own equipment like shovels. To register for one or both of the tree plantings, email treesforwoolwich@gmail.com

Click here for more information on the planting events.

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