MFO-Park Zürich

City Parks and their impact on the environment

Some cities have big parks, some cities have none. They’re mostly relatively big and green, full of people and a hotspot for insects and animals. These things are really good in a psychological way on one hand and for the environment on the other hand.

Many people may know that there are positive impacts on the environment and on the climate from city parks, but how do they look in particular?

What is a city park?

A park per definition is a bigger area with lots of plants, trees and ways with flowers. A city park in our eyes is a place of fun and recovery for kids and adults. In our opinion city parks should allow enough space for people. That means that there should be fields but as well ways and trees. So you can do some sportive activities, but also hang around with friends or play something with other people. Maybe even have a picnic or have a little walk in the forest. All in all, the park should be a place of retreat from your daily business and shouldn’t contain a city atmosphere.

But not just that, its also home of many insects, plants and trees and maybe even some small animals. If there is enough space, the park will automatically allow some little wild animals to live there. Maybe some ponds with ducks and fishes or even small lakes can also be a part of it. So it can create a small ecosystem and help biodiversity.

When a city park is big and offers much to do and to see, it can be seen as a landmark of the city which would help the popularity of city parks.

City parks in Zurich

There are over 70 parks in Zurich with different locations. Not all parks are that big, but they are really diverse. One, for example, is a graveyard, or another one is right at the lake. One has they all in common and that’s that they’re here for peace and recovery. The parks in Zurich are very popular among the citizens because they’re always quite full. [1] [3]

The number of trees in Zürich.
The number of trees in Zürich.
Impact in Celsius for different situations.
Impact in Celsius for different situations.

Impacts on the environment

City parks are good for the people and their health, but they have also crucial impacts on the environment. Street trees, city parks, gardens, fallow land, green roofs – the diverse nature in the city plays an important role in the well-being of the residents. They are valued across all social groups. At the same time, the urban green provides many “invisible” services, for example, it improves air quality. But space is limited in the city, so conflicts are inevitable. Green spaces are an important part of the heat relief system in residential areas. They are “cool spots” within the urban heat island and serve the resident population and local workers as places of retreat and relief in hot spells. Particularly noteworthy are parks of various sizes, but also dedicated and institutional green spaces (e.g. cemeteries, schools and swimming pools) as well as the immediate living and working environment.

The greatest contribution to improving the quality, make additional trees on lawn. During the day, they reduce the actually felt temperature (PET) by 4.2°C as the median and 8.7°C as the maximum value. The change is especially great here since the evapotranspiration (vaporization (Verdampfung) of water) of the lawn leads to a greater decrease than in the case with a tree over asphalt. Here the temperature decrease is 2.3°C in the median and a maximum of 4.5°C. [1] [4]

Temperature by night in Zurich.
Temperature by night in Zurich.


The temperature during the day in Zurich.
The temperature during the day in Zurich.


From a size of around one hectare, green spaces in the settlement area can deliver cooler air to neighbouring quarters via air exchange processes and thus also represent climatic oases as retreat and relaxation areas. The choice of green spaces is limited within the settlement area of ​​the city of Zurich. The green spaces that are particularly effective for the cold air system are mainly outside of the settlement area. Linked forest areas, fields and meadows are important cold air generation areas that provide oxygen-rich, dust-free, little polluted air. The networking of green spaces takes place through the greening and planting of streets and paths with trees and through the development of regular stepping stones, for Ex. in the form of small parks and open spaces but also gardens. For optimal effectiveness, it is advisable to have as diverse open space and vegetation structures as possible with large, shady, climate-resistant trees, open lawns and fields, as well as moving water. The shading of the outside area and the building facades leads to a reduction in direct radiation and fight the nightly heat radiation. The resulting coolness of vaporization (Verdampfung) of the vegetation also reduces the bioclimatic burden. [1] [2]


We did an interview with Martina Bosshard, she works for Grün Stadt Zürich as a communication representative. She agreed on answering our questions. [1]

How does your daily business look like?

Grün Stadt Zürich Werk, builds, maintains and manages public green spaces. These include street and park trees, the city forest, parks and villa gardens, sports and playgrounds, farms, biotopes and brook banks, cemeteries and gardens. Green City Zurich has made sure to preserve the habitats for animals and plants, to preserve biodiversity, to awaken joy and nature in the population and to give the value of a political city. We have around 500 workers employed.

What do you think of city parks?

Green spaces in the city are important for the residents and nature. The facilities are meeting places for public life. They offer residents and visitors of the neighbourhood a place to stay, experience nature, doing sports and relaxation, as well as habitats for plants and animals. They also help to improve the urban climate.

What do you think of the parks in Zurich?

We are, of course, a bit biased because we manage and plan the parks in the city of Zurich. Zurich has a wide range of parking facilities that have grown over time. The garden art of the 19th century is particularly well represented in the parks on the lake and in the villa quarters of Riesbach and Enge. The newer parks, such as the Pfingstweidpark or the parks in Oerlikon, show the current trends. This year we opened the Schütze district park, which is already very much appreciated and frequently visited.

To what extent do the parks help the environment and have a positive effect on the climate?

Due to the global climate change, we expect heat waves to become more frequent here too. Green areas, trees, as well as facade and roof greening have a cooling effect in summer. The forest is of great importance: in summer it ensures the production of cold air, which enters the settlement via currents.

How would you make the parks in the city of Zurich even more environmentally friendly?

We have already done a lot in this area, we maintain our areas close to nature and promote the biodiversity of plants and animals.

Would you rather create new parks or expand existing ones?

Space in the city is scarce. Our aim is to create green and open spaces, especially in the areas that have so far been rather undersupplied with such areas. We also pay attention to the fact that we create multifunctional spaces that allow a wide range of uses (recreation, sport, play opportunities for children, habitats for plants and animals, etc.).

If everything in a city is greened, isn’t it at some point more forest than a city?

That’s an exciting question. In a city, there must be space for living spaces, offices, businesses, restaurants, schools, sports facilities, green spaces, trees, squares, streets and cultural places. Greening everything is not possible – it is not likely scenario that the forest in Zurich will take over. 

What would your ideal vision of the city of Zurich be?

There is no such thing as an «ideal» city. A city must meet the needs of its residents. It is therefore important that they are involved in the projects and changes.


[1] Fachplanung Hitzeminderung (
[2] Zürich kühlen (
[3] Umweltbericht: Biodiversität (
[4] Förderprogramm Biodiväsität  (

On-topic contributions on

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3 thoughts on “City Parks and their impact on the environment

  1. This post is very interesting! I have received a lot of new information. Additionally you have used matching images.

    Well done!

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