Measuring the effectiveness of forests in mitigating air pollution by involving citizens

  • WOWnature
  • European Commission
  • Italy
  • 2020

The problem

The Po Valley in Northern Italy has one of the worst air qualities in Europe, with many of its cities regularly surpassing the threshold levels for Particulate Matter (PM) concentrations considered safe for human health. Luckily, trees can play a role in tackling this problem: studies all over the world are demonstrating the ability of trees in capturing PM, but evidence is needed at the local and site level.

At the same time, the European Commission promotes Citizen Science because giving citizens a greater role in science can deliver the vision of “science for the people, by the people” for Europe and deliver several benefits such as:

  • efficient and transparent use of public and private science and research funding,
  • better engagement in research, governance and accountability,
  • bringing European policy making closer to the people whilst basing it on scientific evidence.


The project

The project was developed in the context of the ACTION Open Call and named after the existing WOWnature® platform created by Etifor in 2018.

The project aims to measure air pollution with innovative sensors within and outside urban and periurban forests in order to assess their efficacy as a mitigation measure for air pollution, facilitate their funding and educate and engage with citizens.

This is a citizen science project: citizens will be involved throughout the project, participating in data collection and in co-developing solutions and policies proposals. Project activities will include education and dissemination activities as well. By including citizens in this project, we want to promote a more participatory, inclusive, citizen-led science. As an outcome of the project, we expect people and public administrations to become more aware of the benefits forests provide and, consequently, to demand and finance additional forest creation and maintenance.

Our contribution

Etifor designed the project and will be responsible for the following activities:

  • Stakeholders and citizens engagement,
  • Experiment design,
  • Air quality monitoring in collaboration with Wiseair,
  • Communication and dissemination.


This reflects the author’s views. The European Commission is not liable for any use
that may be made of the information contained therein.