james levine header

The Future of UK Treescapes fellowships were launched by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as part of the Future of UK Treescapes Programme. A £15.6 million programme designed to improve environmental, socio-economic and cultural understandings of the functions and services provided by UK treescapes.

The new cohort of fellows (including James) will conduct ground-breaking new projects working within the UK and Europe, which will be translated and delivered to stakeholders. The Fellowships are supported with a £340,000 investment from the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UKRI and Defra.

James' project (AFFORE3ST (Advancing a planning Framework FOr Regionally Enhanced and Equitable Ecosystem Services from urban Treescapes)) will demonstrate the potential of a data-driven approach to the planning of tree planting for quantifiable ecosystem services, and explore how this approach can best be integrated with a community-centred one.

I am delighted to have this opportunity to mobilise the latest understanding of the impacts of street trees on exposure to vehicular pollution amongst urban practitioners. AFFORE3ST will enable us to exploit the state of the science in planning street planting based on estimates of its site-dependent effects on the flow of polluted air; i.e., prioritising planting where it will deliver reliable benefits to those most exposed and/or vulnerable, and avoiding planting where it could unintentionally increase the trapping of pollution.

Dr James Levine

Urban trees deliver different amounts of benefits depending on where they are planted. For example, the ability of street trees to reduce our exposure to pollution from vehicles, just a few feet from us, depends on local wind conditions and their interactions with nearby buildings.

AFFORE3ST (Advancing a planning Framework FOr Regionally Enhanced & Equitable Ecosystem Services from urban Treescapes) aims to help focus urban tree planting where it will deliver the greatest benefits to those who need them most.

Dr Levine will be working in partnership with Trees for Cities and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to integrate the Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ) computer model into mapping software. This will help identify priority areas for planting to reduce local exposure to vehicular pollution via changes in polluted airflow. They will also explore, with local residents, how this technology can best support community-centred planting as they develop a Strategic Planting Plan for the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Find out more about the fellowship here