Measuring the Trees
“Grüne Lunge Project” Investigates How We Can Make Urban Trees and Forests Fit for Climate Change
A typical summer's day in the city of Karlsruhe: Bright sunshine, 28 degrees, it's humid. Passers-by intuitively seek the cooling shade of trees or buildings. “This everyday situation shows how important trees are to the urban climate”, says Dr. Somidh Saha, forestry scientist at KIT’s Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS). "In the city, however, trees are exposed to various stresses", Saha adds.
The researcher is head of the joint project GrüneLunge (greenlung), which is funded with over 1.4 million euros by the “City of the Future” program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg Forest Research Institute (Forstliche Versuchsanstalt Baden-Württemberg - FVA), Germany’s national meteorological service “DeutscherWetterdienst” (DWD), the Karlsruhe Parks Department, and the Rheinstetten Building Authorities, researchers at ITAS are investigating how weather extremes and airpollution affect the health, growth, and ecosystem of trees and forests in cities.
Together, the project partners try to learn how to maintain sustainable green spacesand healthy plant populations in the city and the surrounding area and how to adaptthem to the growing challenges posed by climate change. “If we want to make our urban trees and forests fit for the future, we need to know thepotential of different tree species and also the role of urban green spaces in reducingheat stress in urban areas. It is also necessary to compare monocultures with mixedspecies growing along the streets. It is not possible to say in general terms whichtree species are best suited to a particular situation; it depends on many factors”, explains Saha.
In order to clarify these questions, the project partners are carryingout large-scale measurement campaigns that cover the entire urban area up to the district of Rheinstetten. The goal is to develop adaptive strategies for urban tree and forest management by optimizing species selection, planting areas, planting patterns, and tree care. (text: Jonas Moosmüller, translation: Heidi Knierim)