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New scientific study to reveal how trees help the battle against climate change

10 Dec 2009

A groundbreaking scientific study, i-trees began today with pupils from Manchester Academy joining scientists from The University of Manchester to start the two year project, which will accurately measure the important impact of trees in the fight against climate change.

Roland Ennos and David Armson with Manchester Academy students
Roland Ennos and David Armson with Manchester Academy students

There are nine i-trees plots all located on the Corridor, the Oxford Road area of the City. Each plot consists of three 3m x 3m grids of tarmac, grass and a tree which are linked to monitoring equipment that gathers information on surface and air temperature, air quality and surface water run off.

Dr Roland Ennos, from The University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences said: “It is generally accepted that trees and greenery help to reduce surface and air temperatures – that’s why it is always cooler to stand beneath the shade of a tree, rather than a building. No one has accurately measured the size of this effect over a sustained period and against other types of surfaces. Our hope is that the results of i-trees will inform future tree planting in the city so we can start now to counter balance the increase in temperatures expected in the cities over the next 20 years caused by climate change.

Involving the pupils from Manchester Academy in the project is really important, as they will be finding out first hand about climate change and its effects, and making a real contribution to the study and the future of Manchester”

The science and what it will achieve

The results will provide the data needed to demonstrate the multiple benefits of greenery to city and town environments. It is also hoped the study will be a useful tool to provide planners and developers with data to inform future developments Manchester so that enough green space is provided to help keep people living, working and visiting the City cool and comfortable as the climate changes.

Pupils at Manchester Academy are taking part in the study alongside the scientists. Three groups of pupils will be responsible for downloading the data from their plot and comparing the levels of rainwater run off and surface temperature for each of the different surface types.

They will also measure the level of harmful pollution that is absorbed by the trees leaves (and therefore taken out of the air). The pupils will do this by washing the leaves, then filtering and evaporating the water. The residue left behind will provide an indication about how effective the trees are at removing harmful pollutants from the atmosphere – the more residue, the better the tree is at absorbing pollution.

Dr Joanne Smiles, science teacher at Manchester Academy said: "i-trees presents our students with a valuable opportunity to contribute to real scientific research. Furthermore, it is crucial that we involve young people in processes to combat climate change, as it is they who will pick up the baton and continue to find solutions".

The context of I-trees

Councillor Richard Cowell, Executive Member for the Environment, Manchester City Council said: “Climate change is a reality that needs to be faced by everyone. Manchester City Council has just released its Climate Change Action Plan, which sets out our strategic objectives and how we will deliver them. There is support across the city, from businesses, schools, the universities, the hospitals and community groups that we all work together to tackle climate change, and i-trees is an important project, which I know is one of many planned, to put Manchester on the map as a driver for change.”

Jackie Potter, chief executive, Corridor Manchester said: “i-trees is the first of many studies planned by Corridor Manchester and its partners to develop the Oxford Road area of the city into a low carbon laboratory – a place where scientists and researchers can access a whole range of facilities to enable them to test, develop and deliver projects and theories, to turn them into reality that will bring long term benefits for Manchester and its people.”

i-trees builds on the internationally respected work of The University of Manchester into the role of street trees and green spaces in adapting urban areas to climate change, and the nationally respected work of Red Rose Forest in greening urban areas through its Green Streets project.

The i-trees project is a working partnership between Corridor Manchester, The University of Manchester, Red Rose Forest, Manchester City Council and Manchester Metropolitan University. i-trees is also supported by Manchester Science Park, Manchester Leisure and Manchester Academy. Funding for this project has also been provided from the European INTERREG IVB fund as part of the VALUE programme.

Notes for editors

i-trees plot locations

The 9 plots are located in Whitworth Park (4 in total), Manchester Science Park (2 in total), Dilworth Street Car Park, Manchester Academy and Grosvenor Square.

For further information please contact

Lisa Ashurst on 0161 234 3729 or email: l.ashurst@manchester.gov.uk or Mikaela Sitford on 0161 275 2111 or email: Mikaela.Sitford@manchester.ac.uk.