Cleaner air in cities

Cleaner air in cities


Pollution levels in the UK are at an all time high and it is estimated that there are 30 areas in the UK that exceed the air pollution limits set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Towns and cities across the UK are already implementing strategies to make reductions through planting and biodiversity initiatives.

A shocking statistic from an organisation called UK100 has revealed that almost 18 million NHS patients in the UK are exposed to air pollution. The organisation, which is made up of a network of local government leaders who aim to move their communities to clean energy by 2050, monitored levels or air particulate matter (PM2.5) outside GP surgeries, the findings revealed that one in three people were exposed to pollution levels that breech the limits set out by WHO.

High profile organisations are placing the issue at the forefront of their agendas, turning our attention to the next generation, Unicef carried out a survey of UK doctors in 2018 asking them if air pollution has an impact on children within their areas. 9 in 10 said it does.

The government published its Clean Air Strategy in January 2019 which outlines a £3.5bn plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions with strict targets to cut emissions by 2020 and 2030 through reducing emissions in four key areas: transport, at home, from farming and industry. 


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Whilst these four areas are the key offenders, towns and cities across the UK have also been working to offset emissions by increasing the amount of greenery within inner-city and urban areas; Manchester was identified as a city that exceeded the air pollution limits set out by WHO, and the city has, like many others, been implementing various urban-greening projects since the early 90s but ramped up its efforts in 2015 by launching the City of Trees project which aims to plant a tree for each of its three million inhabitants, so far 455,339 trees have been planted, the city still has a long way to go in order to reach its target.

In London, applications closed in January 2019 for a £20 million fund set up by Sadiq Khan to support projects proposed by London boroughs to improve air quality over the next decade, requesting applications focussing on low emissions neighbourhoods (LENs), creating car-free schemes within communities, plus a rather ambiguous ‘exceptional projects’ category which could prove interesting, could these applications focus on creating pockets or greenery within urban areas to help tackle pollution?

There is clear evidence, from various organisations including the Woodland Trust, that green spaces contribute enormously to the health and wellbeing of people that work in and live in built up areas. The trees, grass, flora and fauna also provide beneficial cooling effects during peak temperatures in the summer months and improved air quality from trees sequestering the carbon in the air, not all trees are equal when it comes to carbon capture, certain species have been identified by the Woodland Trust as being better than others and the organisation has created an urban tree quality score (UTAQS) table, some of the best tree species for ‘scrubbing pollution’ include, Silver Birch, Pine, Alder, Larch, Laurel, Norway and Field Maple.

At WoodBlocX, we place environmental sustainability at the core of everything we do, from the selection of timber from FCS forests in the UK right down to the end purpose which is to deliver a street planting and furniture solution that is the right balance of functionality with sustainability. We have a range of products specifically designed to improve air quality within urban areas. From our bespoke tree planters to our rooftop raised beds, our modular system provides a unique solution for any scale of regreening project.

If you would like to learn more about the uses of WoodBlocX then we will happily visit your offices for a CPD session. Click here to book a CPD now.


To find out more…

Further reading
Green space and health –