Trees on Leeds University campus remove 2,000 TONNES of air pollution, report finds

Trees planted across campus grounds at Leeds University remove 350kg of air pollution from the city each year, a report has revealed.

More than 1,400 trees grow throughout the campus grounds, according to researchers looking into the benefits of planting trees on the environment.

It's thought these alone have taken in and stored around 540 tonnes of carbon, which is almost 2,000 tonnes of CO2, so far throughout their lifetimes. This is the equivalent of the carbon footprint of around 180 people in the UK.

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Leeds has been named as the country's second-worst affected city for air pollution, and is one of the top ten cities in Europe for the number of people who die annually from air pollution-related illnesses.

However, the trees planted on campus are thought to annually remove the equivalent harmful gases churned out by 1 million cars driving past.

The majority of these are in St George's Field cemetery, according to the report.

The report by Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere and Forest (LEAF) Centre, reveals 1,400 trees of more than 130 different species were surveyed during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

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This means there is roughly one tree to every 300 people living in Leeds on the University campus alone.

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Trees also require CO2 - emitted by petrol and diesel vehicles - for photosynthesis, a byproduct of which is oxygen.

It's not all good news though, sadly. Researchers found 8% of the trees had been affected by diseases due to increases in temperature, thought to be due to human activity. One large beech tree on the main University campus had to be removed last year due to the unusually hot and dry summer.

The report, which can be seen in full here, states: "Air pollution impacts the health of the urban population, particularly children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with respiratory and cardiac health problems.

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"High levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ) pollution resulted in the UK Government mandating that a Clean Air Zone should be introduced in Leeds."

It added: "Trees can help to mitigate the impacts of air pollution by absorbing pollution through the stomata in their leaves and by particles being deposited on the surface of the leaf and bark.

"Large trees have a greater impact on pollution because of the greater leaf area they have available to intercept gases and particles."

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