Damage to nature

Explanation of the problem

Heat can cause damage to urban greenery, such as shrubs, perennial plants, hedges, trees, and lawns. Urban agriculture, private gardens, and vegetable gardens can also suffer damage as a result. If heat is accompanied by drought, the damage to urban greenery can increase even more. The damage to greenery is not always irreversible, as lawns often recover with increasing rain, and older trees can usually withstand it. Plane trees and elms can also tolerate heat and drought fairly well, but birch trees may struggle more.

Trees could topple due to heat and drought, causing damage to pipes (both wastewater and drinking water). Dry and dead greenery also provides less cooling than healthy, juicy greenery. Additionally, surface water warms up during hot days, increasing the risk of botulism and blue-green algae, leading to a general disturbance of the ecosystem.

Negative consequences for animals include toads and fish living in ponds that (partially) dry up and insects that do not survive the drought. There is also an increased demand for the animal ambulance for the care and transportation of, for example, cats, weakened waterfowl due to botulism, and dehydrated animals (birds and hedgehogs).

The effects of heat and drought on nature primarily affect city residents, recreationists, water board managers, and municipal departments such as green management, incurring additional costs in both daily green management and major maintenance.

Information and maps for better understanding

Basic maps according to the standardized stress test


Additional maps

  • Map showing the number of summer or tropical days now and in the future (Climate Impact Atlas) → provides an indication of the increase in damage to nature due to heat.
  • Locations of parks, green belts, grassy areas, vegetable gardens, and private gardens → provides insight into the locations where damage may occur.
  • Inventory of private and municipal trees (with type) → provides insight into locations with vulnerable trees.
  • Locations with surface water and water quality → provides insight into the (critical) locations where water quality may be a problem.

Some measures and guidelines

  • Opt for diverse and climate-resistant urban greenery (vegetation species resistant to climate extremes and the future climate).
  • Watering urban greenery according to prevailing guidelines.
  • Monitoring cooling water discharges.
  • Limiting the risk of wildfires (see measures on the website of the Dutch Fire Brigade (in Dutch)).
  • Spatial adaptation to better retain water in wet times so that it can be used in dry times.
  • See also cooling tips (in Dutch) for pets.