The value of trees and plants in the urban environment is well documented: they improve air quality, shade against heat and provide an antidote to congestion, traffic and the pace of city life.

Making available significant ‘green’ living space is now virtually mandatory for cities around the world. But are they up to scratch?

To answer this question reliably, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) teamed up with World Economic Forum to create Treepedia, a website which measures and compares cities’ green canopies.

Using Google Street View data, Treepedia is a tool for both city planners and dwellers. Urbanites can inspect the location and size of trees in their neighbourhoods as well as input their own data and request for more trees to be planted where they live.

In addition to visualising cities’ green spaces, a metric called the ‘Green View Index’ helps city planners to evaluate and compare green canopy coverage relative to other global cities.

The initiative is designed to help shape the cities of the future, teach urbanites a greater appreciation of the green spaces around them and reinforce the role of the green canopy in responding to climate change, according to Alice Charles, Community Lead, Infrastructure and Urban Development Industry at the World Economic Forum.

Vancouver takes the top spot as the city with the largest tree canopy. In 2010, Vancouver opened up a dialogue with its citizens to get ideas on how Vancouver could become the greenest city in the world. As a result, the ‘Greenest City Action Plan’ was set out for a 10-year period, and based on Treepedia, it is paying off already.

1: Vancouver, Canada

 Vancouver
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

2: Sacramento, USA

Sacramento
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

3: Geneva, Switzerland

 Geneva
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

4: Seattle, USA

 Seattle
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

5: Toronto, Canada

 Toronto
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

6: Boston, USA

 Boston
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

7: Tel Aviv, Israel

 Tel Aviv
Image: MIT/World Economic Forum

Visit Treepedia for more information.