Higher temperatures in urban areas than rural areas have been identified as an urgent global warming issue by researchers in Central and East European (CEE) cities. This Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect has adverse consequences on well-being, green spaces and businesses. Building urban green infrastructure is the most effective way to mitigate UHI because it reduces surface heat absorption and increases solar energy reflection and water retention. It also contributes to a better environment for citizens, boosting biodiversity in urban areas. However, green infrastructure is not widely considered in the strategies and priorities of CEE cities.
The project targets areas in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia which are subject to limited integrated climate adaptation action plans, have weak implementation structures and a low level of public involvement in local decision-making. Moreover, these countries tend to have less funding available to accelerate the process in line with European strategies to achieve better climate governance. Central European countries also have similar bioclimatic conditions, require similar adaptation to climate change priorities and share a similar legislative background.
The main objective of the LIFE TreeCheck project is to decrease adverse climate impacts ? particularly the Urban Heat Island effect ? in European cities by making green infrastructure planning and decision-making processes more efficient and effective. Climate governance tools will be developed and applied, increasing the capacities of local public authorities, improving stakeholder involvement and building public awareness. The specific objectives of the LIFE TreeCheck project are to: Increase the capacity and understanding of CEE urban authorities, city planners and urban green infrastructure managers of the positive impact that improved planning and management of green infrastructure can have in preventing the UHI effect; and Increase the awareness and active involvement of citizens regarding urban green infrastructure in their cities.
Expected results: Increased compliance and enforcement of the European Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in CEE by designing and implementing concrete governance steps in eight targeted cities with more than 100 000 citizens (regional capitals) ? Prague, Brno, Ostrava (all Czech Republic), Ko?ice (Slovakia), Pre?ov (Slovakia) and Walbrzych (Poland); Activities and involvement planned for Plzen (Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary) and further disseminated to 100 cities with more than 40 000 inhabitants in the target countries and shared at EU level; New easily replicable tools for decision-makers and professionals to strengthen the implementation, planning and management of urban green infrastructure as well as tools strengthening citizen involvement; Increased participation and changed behaviour of CEE citizens with regards to urban green infrastructure to prevent the adverse impacts of the UHI effect on their health, their quality of life and the environment; More than 250 municipal green infrastructure managers and 150 local politicians in the pilot cities reached (measured by questionnaires and structured interviews before and after project implementation); Multiple pilot actions for climate change adaptation carried out in the pilot cities with tailored specificities and local actions; A catalogue of 15-20 unique adaptation measures recommended for each pilot city with a detailed cost-benefit analysis, feasibility assessment and potential demonstration projects; More than 100 towns involved in the replicability phase becoming familiar with the TreeCheck Pro software and manual, and citizens using the TreeCheck App; and More than 18 000 visitors to the project website and 3 000 people following the daily updates of the project on social media; More than a million people reached by communication actions and motivation tools to involve them in urban decision-making, including media actions, awareness-raising campaigns, the Adaptation Measure of the Year and Urban Tree of the Year contests, the TreeCheck App and a range of community actions developed within the LIFE TreeCheck project.