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The Year of the Forest includes urban forests.
I thought I’d put together a few examples of what other Councils & cities are doing regarding urban forests across the world. After a long period of searching the net using every key word I could think of I have come to the conclusion that, really, apart from a few places, nothing much is being done. Basically I read & reread the same motherhood statements that covered the issue in a bland matter-of-fact way with few quantifiable data of what they will do for 2011.
There are a number of voices out there, including the UN, pushing the benefits of trees & linking the presence of trees to human health, safety & quality of life. Trees are also strongly linked to managing & surviving climate change. I guess as global warming gets more heavy-handed & punches us in the gut a few times, the urgency of planting more trees will hit home. We will see.
Below are a few statements that were part of my search for decent information & include those that said they intended to increase the urban forest & those that challenge some of the attitudes regarding the value & importance of public trees.
- An urban forest is a relatively new & innovative approach to developing space for recreational purposes. The area is not a manicured or ornamental park, but an attempt to recreate an ecosystem that existed before European settlement & urbanisation. ~ City of Stonnington Council Victoria
- The Urban Forests One Million Trees initiative aims to redress the loss of local native biodiversity across metropolitan Adelaide. Urban environments will be
significantly enhanced through increased habitat for our unique flora & fauna as well as improvements in air & water quality. Over a thousand hectares of suitable open space will be planted with a mixture of local trees, bushes & ground-covers creating new urban woodlands as well as helping to buffer, link & protect existing remnant bushland. ~ Hugh Kneebone Adelaide
- Mature trees from over 300 different species fill Canberra. They significantly contribute to the aesthetics & have direct economic value & environmental benefits. The Australian National University has calculated this value at more than $15 million annually including $3.9m annually in energy reduction (less cooling & heating); $7.9m annually for pollution mitigation; & $3.5m annually for storm water mitigation. Trees have also contributed to the reduction in Canberra’s wind speeds by up to 50% from the once open & windy plains & provide a buffer for extreme temperatures. ~ Department of Territory & Municipal Services.
- Brisbane city currently has an estimated 46% tree canopy cover in a 1,330 square kilometre region. 49% of Brisbane’s tree canopy cover is on public land. Brisbane City Council’s goals to increase our urban forest are to plant two million trees by 2012, achieve 40% native forest cover, ensure 50% tree shade cover for footpaths & bikeways by 2026 & transform major entry roads to the city into subtropical boulevards. ~ Brisbane City Council
- Leichhardt’s Urban Forest contributing towards reducing the impacts of climate change & creating a sustainable environment through the protection, restoration &
enhancement of our natural environment & native biodiversity including the urban landscape. Increase the health & extent of the canopy or vegetation cover of the Local Government Area to provide environmental & social benefits. Address climate change locally by increasing the canopy & vegetation to capture carbon, provide shade to reduce ambient temperatures & reduce solar ultraviolet radiation exposure, reduce the impacts of storm water runoff & improve air quality. Increase the habitat provided by the trees & vegetation in our streets, parks, private gardens & urban forest for the wildlife that now exists in an Inner City context. ~ Leichhardt Council
- The City of Sydney’s street trees are one of our most important assets. They make our city beautiful, improve the air by removing carbon dioxide & returning oxygen, enhance property values & provide cooling shade. The City has approximately 29,000 street trees, of over 120 differing species, that are both native and exotic species, evergreen & deciduous & range in age, size & condition. ~ City of Sydney Council.
- Victoria’s urban forest has significant economic value. Trees & shrubs help increase real estate values of homes and encourage customers to linger and shop at local businesses. Trees also reduce stormwater runoff and filter air and water pollutants. And, by shading roads and parking lots, well-placed trees increase the life of asphalt. Victoria’s trees also have a tremendous financial value. Each tree is estimated to be worth at least $2,000. This means the value of trees on City land is over $80 million, and much more when the value of trees on private lands is considered.
- International cities that have recognised the importance of their urban forest are being rewarded with positive social & economic benefits. These include less graffiti, enhanced feelings of security, less crime, healthier residents & more community involvement. ~ Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria
- It is estimated that a tree with a 50-year life span provides nearly US$60,000 of benefit over its lifetime. Other benefits are less easily measured, but not less valuable. An urban forest provides beauty that inspires us, recreation that refreshes us & a contact with nature that lifts our spirits. The aesthetic & inspirational value of an urban forest is incalculable. ~ Burlington Vermont
- The Millennium Forest was a huge programme of urban tree planting & the management of urban woodlands, creating a tremendous increase in the area of woodland in the area. The most ambitious urban forestry project ever undertaken in the UK.
- Trees are major capital assets in cities across the United States. Just as streets, sidewalks, public buildings & recreational facilities are a part of a community’s infrastructure, so are publicly owned trees. Trees — and, collectively, the urban forest — are important assets that require care & maintenance the same as other public property. Trees are on the job 24 hours every day working for all of us to improve our environment & quality of life. ~ Colorado Trees
- In the not-too-distant future, parts of Beijing city center will resemble the deep forest rather than a bustling metropolis, since an international architecture competition decided on a new environmentally-responsible streetscape. Once this year’s Olympics come to an end, pavements will take on the form of a forest floor, walkways will be made from permeable materials, water is to be redirected by catchments at plaza level & from surrounding roof tops & solar panels will generate electricity for adjacent buildings & pedestrian areas. ~ Environmental Graffiti Magazine
I wish you all a happy New Year & hope that not only is 2011 a good year for you, but for trees as well. Thank you for your support. Much happiness. Jacqueline
1. Professor Nigel Tapper of Monash University, a speaker addressing the National Tree Symposium at Adelaide University of Adelaide said urban trees actually save lives during heatwaves. Treenet Director David Lawry spoke about stormwater being diverted from the gutter to street trees. A test is being done in Unley Adelaide to measure its affectiveness. …the devices could deliver up to 400 litres of water directly to trees during moderate rain, resulting in healthier trees, more comfortable urban environments & less stormwater getting to waterways & the sea. To me it makes absolute sense to channel rainwater from the gutter into the area around the street tree. To achieve this is quite simple & only requires a remodeling of the kerb.
The National Tree Symposium also discovered that proposed changes by the South Australian government to significant tree regulations will leave a large amount of existing trees unprotected by the equivalent of a Significant Tree Register. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/fears-of-an-open-season-on-adelaides-bigger-trees/story-e6frea6u-1225914516653
2. Darwin has a tree emergency on its hands with between 60-70 large Weeping Rosewood trees showing symptoms of fusarium wilt (a fungal disease not indigenous to Australia), which spreads by spores in the soil. If this is the case, Darwin could lose thousands of trees within the coming decade. http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/09/04/176981_ntnews.html
3. The ACT’s Council, the Department of Territory & Municipal Services has been ordered to improve upon their policy & procedures of public tree removal by becoming more transparent & accountable to the community. 20 – 40% of the ACTs 630,000 park & street trees are expected to be axed within the next 20 years. I’d be very busy if I lived there. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/tree-change-residents-to-get-appeal-rights/1932556.aspx