Harvard Climate Change Solutions Grant – Linear Urban Forests

It is a certainty that we will overshoot the IPCC prediction of 2°C by 2050. We are all experiencing the effects of global warming which is causal to most of negative effects of climate change, especially those who live in cities. The Urban Heat Island Effect is projected to be the most serious of all the effects. Our proposal is to explore how afforestation, a topic that is well researched, can affect a city. There is little research on urban afforestation, only suggestions for afforesting parks and other pieces of land that are not yet developed. Our proposal is going to examine the possibilities of afforestation of city streets, thereby occupying a much greater area and giving access to all parts of the city. Our assumption is that the trend for Automated Electric Vehicles will continue to be realized as the dominant form of transport by mid-century. This creates the likelihood that there will be ‘flabby space’ within city streets that could be repurposed for afforestation. The Linear Urban Forest (LUF) will be inserted into city streets, and run throughout the city, providing benefits to all areas within the city, including under-served neighborhoods. Our study site is the city of Springfield, MA. Every street will be measured and designed to hold the LUF. We will measure and create metrics to measure the reduction in heat as well as other environmental services such as reduction of air pollution, support of biodiversity, storm water management, the reduction of energy use and CO2 mitigation. We believe that this study will open up new ways of looking at a city’s public realm landscapes, not as just ‘amenities’, but space to regenerate natural systems and a pathway to a more integrated balance with nature. We believe that this idea is applicable to most cities, including cities in underdeveloped nations. This study has a sure pathway to a Pilot Project in the future.