The Glasgow to Globe Nature Solutions webinars started on Wednesday, with talks about how nature can help us limit overheating. With man-made climate change driving record temperatures, heat will become a new threat in much of the world as we are forced to adapt.
Lucy Gillie from South Seeds, spoke about how trees, water, and well-designed urban spaces can cool cities. Cities are warmer than surrounding areas due to the “urban heat island” effect which comes from the lack of plants and water, as well as the dark colours of many man-made surfaces catching more heat. Trees pull warming carbon dioxide from the air as they grow, storing it as wood and reducing the greenhouse effect and global warming. On top of that, trees also provide local cooling through shade and water evaporating from their leaves, which cools them like sweat cools us. This “evaporative cooling” also works with large bodies of water, such as seas, lakes, rivers, and even garden ponds. South Seeds connect people to trees using their Tree Trail, which features 12 trees of different species on a loop of Glasgow’s Southside. Through this and their other activities, South Seeds are working with their community to improve greenery, access, and local environment for Govanhill.
Our second talk, from Julie Stoneman of Plantlife, covered Scottish rainforests and why we need to work to conserve them. Similarly to tropical rainforests, Scottish rainforests support unique biodiversity, hold great cultural and economic value to local people, and work to store carbon and clean air. This globally-important habitat once stretched along much of our west coast, but today only survives in small pockets, totalling 30,000 hectares (a little bigger than Edinburgh). The remaining rainforest is under huge pressure from overgrazing, where deer are eating so many young plants that no mature trees survive, and invasive species which are outcompeting the native flora. Air pollution, disease, plantation, and climate change are all putting pressure on the Scottish rainforests’ survival, but the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest are working to keep the forests thriving and help them expand.
Our final talk was from Josiane Segar, a joint research fellow at iDiv and Rewilding Europe, on rewilding as a tool for climate action. Rewilding can benefit the climate by supporting “carbon-sink” landscapes, such as forests and peat bogs. These landscapes take in more carbon dioxide than they release, and store that carbon for a long time, as well as addressing the biodiversity crisis by providing high-quality habitat for a range of native wildlife. While there are issues with the public perception of rewilding, and its effectiveness has varied a lot across Europe, supporting native landscapes and wildlife could lessen the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The events series continues with a sold-out tree walk in Glasgow’s Queens Park. Next week’s theme is food security, with another webinar, some practical work at Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and a guided walk of Malls Mire Community Woodland.
The full webinar, including Q&A, is available on Vimeo, as well as separate videos of the talks from Lucy, Julie, and Josiane.
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