Advancing nature-based solutions for climate-proof and resilient cities
Urban trees are found in parks, urban forests, gardens and individually along streets. The differences in management practices can vastly alter their functioning within the ecosystem and therefore the benefits they provide to urban residents.
Urban parks and green spaces offer water storage opportunities to mitigate rainwater flooding and open spaces for the enjoyment of all, contribute to cleaner water and provide wildlife habitat and groundwater storage.
Green roofs and walls absorb and slow the flow of rainwater, provide insulation for buildings, store carbon, and offer health and well-being benefits to people. Benefits depend on the structure and design of the roof or wall, and the species grown.
Vegetated riverbanks slow the flow of water, stabilises soil, and reduces erosion and sediment entering the water. Our research in China (Hong Kong, Suzhou and Guangzhou) explores the role of vegetation along river, stream and lake banks in controlling greenhouse gases released from rivers while improving urban resilience to flooding.
Rain gardens are man-made drainage areas with vegetation that provide many of the same benefits as natural wetlands. Our research projects in the USA and Canada demonstrate that rain garden design and management impacts their effectiveness at reducing flood risk and moderating the micro-climate.
Lakes and ponds help to reduce the risk of rainwater flooding locally, they support biodiversity, remove and store carbon, nitrogen and other pollutants, and provide a source of drinking water and food for humans and animals. We investigate how to improve the management of urban lakes and their surrounding spaces to increase these benefits in three cities across India and Mexico.
Images: iStock/JaySi, iStock/bingfengwu, iStock/Dymov, Earthwatch US