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London wildfires to worsen without urban tree planting

In July, the UK capital’s fire brigade saw its busiest day since World War II amid a record breaking heatwave, with blazes in several locations across the city causing millions in damage and leading to air pollution spikes.

London’s wildfires will only get worse without a major urban tree planting operation focused on fire-resistant species, according to a leading expert. 

people walking near fire

Christian Kroll, CEO at Ecosia – the search engine that turns online search requests into tree planting projects in biodiversity hotspots – has called for sustained investment in planting trees in Britain’s biggest city, and criticised the lack of action in this area so far. 

Citing the huge benefits of increasing tree numbers in cities, Kroll pointed to their ability to cool the air temperature by up to 12 degrees, provide vital shade, increase water retention, and absorb carbon and other forms of air pollution. 

The suggestion follows one of the UK’s driest July’s and hottest years on record, with thermometers in some parts of London surpassing 40C on the warmest day, followed by a second, slightly cooler heatwave in early August. Blazes broke out across the capital and in several other parts of England as a result, with the London Fire Brigade confirming Tuesday 19th July was the force’s busiest since World War II. 

Kroll’s thoughts also back up those of the Royal Town Planning Institute, which last year published a statement urging the government to increase tree planting to help all communities get closer to nature for both aesthetic, air pollution, and other environmental benefits. 

Image credit: Issy Bailey

 

 

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