Tree Planting Initiatives Can Help Fight Air Pollution
An initiative undertaken by the Lahore Division Commissioner’s office in early 2019 aims at improving Lahore’s green infrastructure. It is an attempt to curb the harmful effects of air pollution and smog that now tend to plague the city every year for prolonged periods of time.
The effort undertaken by the government welcomes the participation of members of the civil society as well as experts in the field as they begin identifying areas for plantation.
Air Quality Situation A Cause For Concern
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 4.2 million people die every year as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution. Air pollution is increasingly becoming a serious problem, especially in places like China, India and Pakistan. According to an organisation called Air Visual, the provincial capital of Punjab ranks at number one in the list of cities with the poorest air quality. In light of these facts, those involved in urban planning need to integrate more environmental-friendly strategies into their existing plans to improve public health.
Planting Trees The Way Forward
A cheap yet effective way of doing this is by planting trees in urban centers. Trees don’t just provide the much-needed fresh air, they also cool the air and help counteract the urban ‘heat island’ effect. In addition, they also help improve water quality.
A 2016 study on California from the US forest service found that every $1 spent on planting trees delivers about $5.28 in public benefits. Despite the overwhelming amount of data supporting the idea that trees in fact do help make urban center air cleaner, the standard rate of investment on urban plantation is around one third of a per cent of a cities budget. The problem with looking at this from a city level is that often spending regarding public health is centralised, such is in federal and provincial institutions.
According to a UC Berkeley study in 2013, African American individuals were more likely to live in hotter and sparsely-shaded parts of the city. People with more financial resources tend to make demands regarding better green infrastructure, while others continue to be marginalised.
Modern cities require large-scale interventions in the form of plantations especially in previously neglected areas to make a substantial change in air quality and as a result, improve the health of their citizens.