How many trees are in your city? Very few, if you’re Parisian

30 Jan 2017

Paris is short on trees. Image: Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

A new project looking at tree numbers in major cities is providing planners with detailed layouts of their tree-lined streets. In Paris and London, it looks quite sparse.

A project in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has revealed the amount of trees in some of the world’s major cities, providing planners with food for thought in the US, Asia and Europe.

Called Treepedia, the project uses Google Street View to provide a birds-eye view of numerous cities, highlighting the tree situation throughout their busy streets.

Lacking any data from within parks such as Central Park in New York, or Hyde Park in London, the researchers behind the project are limited to what Google’s cars pick up on their mapping expeditions. Still, though, the results are interesting.

The website is fully interactive, with green dots highlighting the trees dotted throughout 16 cities: Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Turin, Tel Aviv, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Singapore.

Ranking them in what MIT calls a ‘Green Index View’, a percentage is given to reflect the number of trees in relation to the population density of each city. Paris (8.8pc) and London (12.7pc), according to the project, are performing the worst.


North American cities perform well on Treepedia, with Vancouver, for example, scoring 25.9pc. The highest is Singapore, at 29.3pc. In general, Europe performs worse. Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Geneva are hovering around the 20pc mark.

“In the future, the goal of this project is to start a conversation so that cities can see how they compare with one another and how they can learn from each other,” said lab director Carlo Ratti to AP.

The project is ongoing, with more cities being added and interiors of parks, somehow, in the works. “Streets are important,” said Ratti, “because that’s where we spend most of our time.”

Trees perform a number of tasks in cities, providing everything from shelter to easing the effects of air pollution.

According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution remains the single largest environmental health hazard in Europe, resulting in a lower quality of life due to illnesses, and an estimated 467,000 premature deaths per year.

The EU’s latest research and innovation prize is being provided for clean air materials.

Aimed at developing the most affordable “innovative and well-designed material solution that will reduce the concentration of particulate matter in the air”, entries are being accepted between now and 23 January 2018.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic