Impact of changing urban typologies on residential vegetation and its climate-effects – A case study from Helsinki, Finland

Paula Kaisa Leppänen*, Antti Kinnunen, Ranja Hautamäki, Leena Järvi, Minttu Havu, Seppo Junnila, Outi Tahvonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Residential green spaces are an integral part of urban green infrastructure and its role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Various urban typologies and changing planning practices affect the amount and structure of residential greenery, which has a direct impact on climate benefits. While urban green and its climate benefits have received increasing attention, there is still limited knowledge on how changing planning practices and related urban typologies impact residential vegetation and its capacity to deliver climate benefits. This paper aims to address this gap by determining the impact of planning practices on residential vegetation, focussing specifically on climate mitigation and adaptation. With the case study of Helsinki, characterized by a high share of green areas, the paper first examines how construction year and urban density affect the amount and structure of vegetation on residential properties. Second, it estimates the carbon sequestration and summer temperatures in the present-day climate. The paper applies spatial modelling and regression analysis to estimate the impact of construction year on the studied dependent variables, while controlling density via gross floor area of buildings. The study demonstrates that the average amount of residential vegetation, as measured using canopy and vegetation cover, has declined 15 percentage points from the 1970 s to early 2010 s and the canopy to low vegetation ratio has decreased constantly over the periods studied. The decline of the canopy cover in particular has reduced the climate benefits of residential vegetation. The paper highlights the significant impact of gross floor area and planning practices on urban vegetation cover and the climate benefits it provides. It also stresses the importance of ensuring sufficient tree cover and permeable surfaces in cities with progressive climate mitigation agenda throughout the chain of urban planning, construction, and subsequent property management stages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128343
Number of pages12
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - May 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Canopy cover
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Residential properties
  • Urban heat island
  • Urban planning
  • Urban vegetation


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