The role of urban trees and greenspaces in urban climate regulation


This programme aims to study how urban trees and greenspaces can help regulate air temperatures in cities. To date, two field surveys have been carried out in London to evaluate the extent of cooling provided by various greenspaces. Air temperatures were first monitored in and around Kensington Gardens and, more recently, eight other greenspaces of different sizes. The two studies have been separately published, with each illustrating that the extent of cooling provided by a greenspace is related both to its size and and the areas of tree canopy and grass. The research is now considering the cumulative cooling impact of greenspaces across a whole city.

Research objectives

  • Investigate the local cooling effects of urban trees and greenspaces
  • Examine how greenspace size and characteristics impact on cooling expansion


Vaz Monteiro, M., Doick, K.J., Handley, P., Peace, A. (2016).  The impact of greenspace size on the extent of local nocturnal air temperature cooling in London.  Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 16, 160-169.

Doick, K. J., Peace, A. and Hutchings, T. R. (2014). The role of one large greenspace in mitigating London’s nocturnal urban heat island. Science of the Total Environment, 493, p.662–671.


This research started in April 2011 and is currently ongoing


Kieron Doick

Funders and partners

This work is funded by the Forestry Commission

Forestry Commission policy

Climate change represents a significant threat to urban infrastructure, environmental quality and the health of city dwellers. Green infrastructure is itself at risk through greater extremes in temperature fluctuation, consequent flourishing of tree pests and diseases, drought and perceived increased risk of subsidence leading to tree removal.

There is no clear system for determining the biophysical interactions, benefits, or managing potential trade-offs within a risk-benefit context, so as to optimally support the protection and sustainable regeneration of UK towns and cities. The Urban Trees and Greenspace in a Changing Climate Programme intends to develop such a system through consolidating and building upon existing work to provide the evidence base for urban trees, definition and communication of best practice guidance, and robust assessment, evaluation and dissemination tools so that the risks and benefits of urban tree placement can be more fully assessed by society, policy makers and planners.

The Programme also maintains the centre of excellence which FR has developed over several decades on land regeneration practices to establish and maintain urban greenspaces on former brownfield and contaminated sites.

Urban trees and greenspace in a changing climate