A panel of researchers and environmentalists today pointed to the need for more trees in Los Angeles to provide relief to residents from increasing temperatures and lower rainfall in Southern California.
The recommendation stems from the findings of Australian researcher Dr. Nigel Tapper of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities. He found that reducing heat through green infrastructure and landscaping can help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and pulmonary disease.
Tapper's study showed that besides disease, heat kills more people every year than any other natural element in Australia.
"If we can just drop the temperatures in our cities a degree or two, we can save lives at great rates," Tapper said. "... Part of that is about smart building, smart materials, but part of that is to return our landscape to a more natural landscape."
He said more trees -- that are climate appropriate -- and water can make a big difference in dry areas like Southern California.
"One of the things we've learned in Australia is exactly that," Tapper said. "We need to be finding ways of harvesting storm water, whatever water does fall ... keeping that and storing that and using that to keep trees alive during the summer, during the peak dry periods."
Andy Lipkis, founder and president of TreePeople, said he brought the Australian researcher to Los Angeles to discuss his work due to Southern California's dry and hot climate.
"As a community, we can begin to rethink the need for tree cover and how we are going to make it happen," Lipkis said.
He said some parts of Los Angeles have less than 5 percent of tree cover.
TreePeople volunteers plan to take large construction barriers that are normally filled with water and put them around dying trees to create a drip irrigation system to save them.
—City News Service