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Carbon sequestration and noise attenuation provided by hedges in Rome: the contribution of hedge traits in decreasing pollution levels

Atmospheric Pollution Research


Hedges are ubiquitous green elements in many European cities. The selection of hedge types characterized by different traits can be suggested for urban greening projects to decrease pollution levels. At this end, carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration and noise attenuation capability were analyzed in the following hedge types: Laurus nobilis, Nerium oleander, Pittosporum tobira and Pyracantha coccinea, largely used as green infrastructure in Rome (Italy). Representative hedges for each species were selected from high level traffic streets in the city centre (P sites). Traffic density (TD) was monitored simultaneously with CO2 concentration and noise level (N) in each of the considered P sites. The monthly CO2 sequestration capability (MSC) was calculated multiplying the total photosynthesis per hedge by the total photosynthetic activity time (in hours) per month. The multiple regression analysis predicted noise attenuation (Delta N) by a linear combination of total leaf area (TLA), total leaf density (TLD) and leaf mass area (LMA) of the considered hedge types. All the considered species, being evergreens, were active all year long, including winter, when CO2 emissions from road transport peaked. Nevertheless, among the considered hedge types, P. tobira and L. nobilis were the most efficient species in both MSC (31.6 +/- 2.8 and 25.4 +/- 2.4 kg CO2 month(-1), respectively) and Delta N (15 +/- 1%, mean value). The results give insight on the use of hedges to mitigate pollution effects. Moreover, this method can be used to monitor hedge contribution to air quality, in relation to various elements in the city (i.e. traffic density, new cars produced, application of management projects, local laws). These results might be available for projects based on the use of vegetation in order to improve environmental quality in urban areas.

Author(s): Gratani, L; Varone, L

Journal: Atmospheric Pollution Research

Year: 2013