The CLAIRO project has moved into its next phase. In spring this year, new greenery was planted at two sites, according to a model based on precise measurements of meteorological parameters and air pollutants. Team member Miloš Zapletal from the Silesian University in Opava gave more details: “Our aim was to create multi-level plantings which would capture the maximum possible quantity of airborne dust particles, ozone and nitrogen oxides. We have used tall trees with well-developed crowns as well as multi-trunk trees with branches growing up from ground level, with an additional layer provided by bushes. We will now model and evaluate the capture of the airborne pollutants by the individual species in the plantings, calculated by measuring atmospheric pollutant levels and meteorological data.”
The locations for the plantings were not selected at random; the choice was supervised by experts from the CLAIRO partner universities. It was important to find areas that would be suitable in both size and location. The scientists recommended to choose places which not only suffered from heavy pollution (e.g. from transportation, industry or households), but also had different soil conditions. Based on these criteria, the team chose two locations in the municipal district of Radvanice a Bartovice, directly adjacent to one of the largest sources of pollution in Ostrava.
Measuring pollution levels
The first part of the research began in 2019, when scientists from Ostrava’s Technical University installed measurement sensors at the planned planting locations in order to monitor levels of substances in the atmosphere. Jiří Bílek from the university explained: “The sensors are powered by a solar panel, and at five-minute intervals they send data to a device which gathers that data and sends it in large packets to a central collection point here at the university. Here we evaluate the data and upload it into the project database.” The sensors will carry out measurements constantly for a period of almost eight years, enabling the project team to determine the concentrations of pollutants before, during and after planting the new greenery.
Experimental treatment methods will make the greenery more resistant
Besides devising plantings to capture and absorb pollutants, members of the project team are also monitoring the greenery’s response to new treatment methods that have been developed experimentally by experts at Palacký University in Olomouc. The scientists are convinced that the new treatment will boost the greenery’s resistance as well as increasing its ability to capture airborne dust, as Karel Doležal from Palacký University explained: “By applying a special substance containing biostimulants, anti-stress agents and seaweed extracts, we can monitor how the plants are able to overcome negative environmental impacts, especially insufficient water or extreme fluctuations in temperature. We expect the trees and bushes to be in better health after applying the special treatment; their photosynthetic capacity will be increased, and they will grow denser foliage of better quality. These factors will then have a positive impact on their ability to capture air pollutants.”
Transfer of know-how
The scientists from the CLAIRO team have summed up the basic principles of their research in a document entitled the Innovative Greenery Proposal. This proposal, alongside other project documentation, will be incorporated into a methodological manual which will include details on methods of measurement, pollutant absorption and greenery plantings. The manual will be one of the main outputs of the project, and it will be available for use by other cities and towns when planting new greenery. Besides working on the manual, the scientists are also compiling a database of plant species which have a proven positive effect on reducing air pollution. This will help municipal authorities when selecting the most suitable species for planting at locations exposed to high levels of air pollution.