Planting more hedges, plants and trees will reduce human exposure to harmful airborne pollution by 50%, according to a ground-breaking project undertaken by University College Dublin (UCD).

Five other cities in Italy, Germany, the UK, Belgium and Finland participated in the Dublin-led, EU-funded project.

Dr. Francesco Pilla of UCD, who led the research, said more greenery in cities will have a far greater impact than just making them more attractive.

“I think the main finding is actually if we have nature in cities, that would have a huge impact on the physical look of cities; but actually on the air by physically creating green barriers to pollution,” he said.

The research states that in Dublin, for example, a major source of fine particulate matter is diesel exhaust, brake dust, and rubber tyre particles from vehicles.

Particulate matter can be deposited onto the surface of vegetation, thereby removing it from the atmosphere.

The presence of trees can increase the amount of surface area on which deposition can occur, but they can also alter wind flow in a way that increases local pollutant concentrations.

The results from the study suggest that trees and plants do cause a degree of air quality improvement and can be used to inform national clean air strategies aimed at reducing pollutant emissions.

Climate Action Bill

Earlier this week the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications confirmed that the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 does not set emissions targets for agriculture.

Instead, the bill sets in law an emissions target of a ‘climate neutral economy’ by 2050, and provides an enhanced statutory governance framework to achieve this objective.