What are the best trees to reduce air pollution in our cities?

There are some tree species that perform better than others in reducing air pollution by capturing the particulate matter (e.g. PM10) suspended in the air. Here you will find which ones and why.

These are not good times for air quality in our cities. As it often happens in the winter months, the levels of particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5) and nitrogen oxides’ (NOx) increase sharply, consistently exceeding the values considered safe by law and the World Health Organization.

When this happens, at a practical level,  the public administrations of many cities apply the traffic blocks, and stable weather conditions don’t help. Sadly, these are palliative measures, that cannot solve the problem in the long run. The fact is that, at the moment, air is really quite unbreathable.

In Turin, Milan, Cremona and many other cities, after ten days exceeding the threshold of 50 micrograms per cubic meter, the red light for most polluting vehicles lit. From January 1st, five other provincial capitals registered record levels, and they were all in the Veneto Region: Rovigo, Padua, Treviso, Venice and Vicenza. Here, the smog emergency is chronic. For this reason, our reforestation projects, particularly those in urban areas, have been designed to help local administrations and citizens reach better air quality levels than previous years.

The trees to be planted to reduce smog

Once again, our beloved trees can come to our aid. Some researchers of the University of Southampton found that green areas can absorb from 850 to 2,000 tons of PM10 yearly. However, there are some species that are better than others in absorbing particulate matter and gas pollutants. We chose some of these species in our project PadovaO2. Just think, 8 new trees can capture the PM10 emitted by one Paduan car in a year. After one year from the launch of the initiative, our community adopted more than 4,200 new trees. But we want to reach 10,000, thanks to your support too. We will soon complete the last urban forests, such as the one in Voltabarozzo.

Would you like these projects to be present in your city too? Don’t worry. Our initiative is growing week by week and we will soon reach your neighbourhoods too. You can be kept updated by subscribing to our newsletter or following our social media!

Birch
Characterized by its peculiar bark, the birch is slim, tall and elegant. In many cultures, it is a symbol of femininity and it is associated to the cycle of life, regeneration and birth. However, it is not a delicate tree: the birch is very resistant and can resist to extreme temperature fluctuations.

Tilia
This big, frangrant and long-living tree was the symbol of love and hospitality in Greek mythology. Thanks to its numerous therapeutic properties and to its delicious and delicate honey, this tree belongs to the category of “beautiful and useful” trees, for this reason we recommend this tree for whoever loves to bring together beauty and pragmatism.

Maple
It has always been part of the peasant culture and is one of the trees that characterizes the Italian landscape. Thanks to its yellow-amber leaves, it becomes spectacular in the fall season.

European nettle tree
It’s a majestic tree, tall and with an almost perfectly rounded crown. It’s known with many names, that all refer to its strengths: resistance (also to urban pollution), tenacity (its roots can get to everywhere) and long life.

Ash
Another magnificent and mighty tree, that can grow up to 40 meters in height, is the ash. In the past, it was sacred to Celts and druids. In the local Venetian dialect, the ash is called Fràseno or Fràsano.

Elm
Tall and impressive, it’s the prince of Italian landscapes. The elm has a large and elegant crown; its wood is dense, strong, resistant to water and elastic at the same time, which makes it perfect for high quality furniture production. In the past, it was used to build watermills, ports and ships.