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Green infrastructure describes natural resource management interventions that use vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water and create healthier environments.
Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and international collaborators demonstrated a new method for mapping the location and size of trees growing outside of forests. Not only could these trees be significant carbon sinks, but they also contribute positively to economies and the ecosystems of nearby human, animal, and plant populations.
Urban greenery adds CO2 to the atmosphere when vegetation dies and decomposes, increasing total emissions. Urban vegetation also removes this gas from the atmosphere when it photosynthesizes, causing total measured emissions to drop. Understanding the role of urban vegetation is important for managing cities’ green spaces and tracking the effects of other carbon sources.
The “urban heat island effect” (UHIE) describes the phenomena where temperatures in densely populated cities can be significantly higher than in surrounding areas.
The landscape of urban open spaces can range from playing fields to highly maintained environments to relatively natural landscapes. Urban open spaces can be well protected due to conservation status, but unprotected areas may especially be at risk due to development pressures. As dense population centers, urban areas have opportunities to embrace “smart growth” to balance development needs with important ecological, economic, and social benefits of open spaces.