Browsing by Subject "urban vegetation"

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  • du Toit, Marie J.; Kotze, D. Johan; Cilliers, Sarel S. (2020)
    Sustainable urban nature conservation calls for a rethinking of conventional approaches. Traditionally, conservationists have not incorporated the history of the landscape in management strategies. This study shows that extant vegetation patterns are correlated to past landscapes indicating potential extinction debts. We calculated urban landscape measures for seven time periods (1938-2019) and correlated it to three vegetation sampling events (1995, 2012, 2019) using GLM models. We also tested whether urban vegetation was homogenizing. Our results indicated that urban vegetation in our study area is not currently homogenizing but that indigenous forb species richness is declining significantly. Furthermore, long-term studies are essential as the time lags identified for different vegetation sampling periods changed as well as the drivers best predicting these changes. Understanding these dynamics are critical to ensuring sustainable conservation of urban vegetation for future citizens.
  • Karttunen, Sasu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Air pollution is the most severe environmental problem in the world in terms of human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 91% of the world's population is exposed to high air pollutant levels. The risks are particularly high in urban areas, where often high population densities are combined with high air pollutant levels. Urban street canyons are especially prone to high pollutant levels due to the proximity of traffic and reduced exchange of air with the street canyon and air above, referred to as ventilation. As a result, one of the most important topics in city planning is how to avoid designs that impact the air quality negatively. Street trees are often planted in street canyons for aesthetic purposes while they can also improve thermal comfort. The air quality within street canyons is affected by street trees in two ways. They provide leaf surface for air pollutants to deposit on, thus cleaning the air. On the other hand, they block the airflow within the street canyon, thus decreasing the ventilation of air pollutants. In previous studies the latter effect has generally been found stronger. However, due to the various benefits of street trees, leaving them completely out from street canyon designs is rarely an option. The City of Helsinki is planning to develop its current inbound motorways into city boulevards which has raised concerns towards the local air quality levels due to high projected traffic rates. The aim of this study was to find which of five street-tree scenarios, realistic for the city boulevards, is the best in terms of air quality. Pedestrian-level aerosol mass concentrations were used as the measure of air quality. Furthermore the impacts of vegetation and dependency of aerosol mass concentrations on various flow statistics were studied in order to explain the differences between the scenarios. Large-eddy simulation (LES) model PALM was utilised to study the flow field above and within a city boulevard and to model the dispersion of traffic-related aerosols. Aerosol particles of different sizes were represented using a sectional aerosol model SALSA. The suitability of the used LES setup for such intercomparison studies was also investigated. The results showed that the street trees have generally a considerable negative impact (-2% to 54%) on pedestrian-level aerosol mass concentrations. Trees were find to reduce the mean wind speeds within the street canyon, which correlated strongly with the pedestrian-level concentrations. This was particular with a parallel wind direction to the street canyon due to decreased ventilation. Turbulence produced by the street trees was partially able to compensate for the reduced ventilation in some scenarios. The increased turbulence could be observed up to heights exceeding the maximum building height. Based on the results, it is recommended to prefer variable-height street-tree canopies over uniform ones within street canyons similar to the studied one. Uneven canopy increases turbulence and related pollutant transport which partially compensates decreased ventilation due to decreased wind speeds. It is also recommendable to consider minimising the ratio of the total crown volume to the street canyon volume, as ventilation decreases sharply as the ratio increases.
  • Yli-Pelkonen, Vesa Johannes; Setälä, Heikki Martti; Viippola, Juho Viljami (2017)