Believe It or Not: Tel Aviv One of the World’s ‘Greenest’ Cities

Skyscrapers in North Tel Aviv near Ayalon highway and river. (Gili Yaari /Flash90)

Hot and humid during the long summer months, with rainfall restricted to about five months of the year, Tel Aviv wouldn’t be a likely top choice for one of the world’s “greenest” cities – but surprisingly it is, at least according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An MIT project called Treepedia, undertaken with the assistance of the World Economic Forum, lists Tel Aviv as the number seven city in the world for the amount of trees per capita.

The more trees, the healthier a city, according to MIT. Increasing a city’s tree canopy contributes to lowering urban temperatures by blocking shortwave radiation and increasing water evaporation,” according to the MIT team behind the project. “Creating more comfortable microclimates, trees also mitigate air pollution caused by everyday urban activities. Their absorptive root systems also help avoid floods during severe rains and storm surges.”

To measure the presence of trees, the group developed the Green View Index (GVI), which examines satellite imagery (supplied by Google), showing the percentage of tree canopy coverage of each location. Tel Aviv ranked seventh in major cities worldwide, with 17.5 percent of the city covered by trees. Besting the city were Vancouver, Sacramento, Geneva, Seattle, Toronto, and Boston, but Tel Aviv came out ahead of other large cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, New York, Los Angeles, and many others.

Strictly speaking, the ranking was not for Tel Aviv proper, but for the metropolitan area, from Kfar Shmaryahu in the north to Bat Yam in the south, and Or Yehuda to the east of the city. Petach Tikvah, which has several large parks, was not included. In addition, large parks in the city, such as Hayarkon Park, were not included in the GVI.