14 June 2021
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Things are hotting up for the summer, and people in towns and cities across the nation are making full use of parks, recreation grounds and any other green and open spaces they can find to make the most of the warmer weather. Due to climate change, summer heat waves are becoming more frequent, but also more severe, and they last longer too - which has an effect on us all, but especially the most vulnerable people in society.

The urban heat island effect

When natural landscapes are replaced with concrete, pavements, bricks and tarmac, like in most towns and cities, the result is what's known as the urban heat island effect. Those hard surfaces absorb and retain heat, which can cause the temperature in a city to be 7 degrees higher on average - making it uncomfortably hot for many people.

During a heat wave there is usually a marked increase in heat-related health problems such as fainting, heatstroke and sunburn, particularly among the oldest and youngest people, who find it more difficult to regulate their body temperature. Extreme temperatures can also worsen chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular diseases, and diabetes.

The good news is, trees can help to cool everything down and make our environment more comfortable, so that people of any age or state of health can benefit.

View of tree branches from underneath


The overall cooling effect of a single, mature tree on average is equivalent to 10 air conditioning units running for 20 hours a day.
source: Trees for cities

As well as creating shade from direct sunlight, trees produce a cooling effect from the water vapour they release through their leaves. This is known as evapotranspiration.

By planting more urban trees now, we can combat the effects of climate change in the future. Trees for Streets is hosting tree sponsorship schemes for local councils nationwide, making it easier for people like you to get involved in greening the streets.