Tree shading "reduces maximum urban food production by 19-35 per cent", say US researchers

Maximising local food production in cities will lead to a trade-off with urban trees as their shade would significantly restrict crop growth, according to a study using Seattle in the northwestern United States as an example.

Image: Tiffany Von Arnim
Image: Tiffany Von Arnim

Applying a geospatial method to estimate the city's maximum food crop production capacity, the researchers found that that 1-4 per cent of its population "could be supported with a complete vegetarian diet from food grown within the city".

Modelling the effect of urban tree canopy on reducing the maximum food crop production capacity of Seattle through shading, they calculated that this "reduces food crop production capacity between 19 and 35 per cent".

The researchers, from the Seattle-based University of Washington, also calculated that "a buffer of 58 km around the city is required to meet 100 per cent of the city's food needs".

The study is published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

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