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About the project

Residents in a large park in Taipei, Taiwan, during the summer period. There is grass on the ground and a number of low trees, with exercise equipment in the middleground.Extreme hot weather is becoming a major concern under a changing climate. This is especially so in cities, where large volumes of concrete can contribute to an ‘urban heat island’ effect of high temperatures. In response, trees and urban greenery have been proposed as a low-cost strategy to cool the urban environment and reduce risks to health from extreme temperatures.

It is increasingly recognised, however, that not everyone is at equal risk from extreme heat, with less wealthy or empowered neighbourhoods being exposed to higher temperatures and having less capability to respond. Likewise, there is a strong body of evidence globally which suggests that trees and green spaces can disproportionately accrue to wealthier areas, and thus that the most vulnerable neighbourhoods may have less access to the cooling benefits that urban greenery provides.

This project therefore envisions an approach to adapting neighbourhoods to extreme heat in a fair and equitable way, one that is driven by the best scholarly evidence yet embeds residents’ own experiences of urban nature and weather extremes into planning and decision-making. Bringing residents’ own experiences into the research process is important because residents’ groups and civil society organisations globally are arguing that traditional top-down planning approaches ignore residents’ on-the-ground experiences and entrench existing inequalities.

Residents sunbathe and play football on a grassy park in Glasgow on a hot day. In the foreground, a researcher takes a photo of the scene from underneath the shade of a tree.In response, we build an interdisciplinary team spanning environmental sociology, urban ecology, health and wellbeing and built environment. We work with communities and urban planning practitioners in two cities in different climate regions – Glasgow (Scotland) and Taipei (Taiwan) - to collaboratively make sense of the broader social and cultural landscape to which environmental science-driven approaches to urban nature need to respond.

The project will involve (a) a review of existing scholarly literature and policy ‘best practice’ on urban heat and greening; (b) satellite analysis of green space and temperatures across the cities; (c) a survey of residents’ attitudes and behaviours; and (d) collaboration with community researchers to create understanding of how urban greening can best respond to heat and other environmental and societal challenges.


Get involved

We are always willing to talk about the project, or to explore opportunities for collaboration with other research groups or community organisations.

If you are interested in discussing how to work with us, or in finding out more about the project, then please contact Principal Investigator Leslie Mabon in the first instance.