In the final working week of 2018, we received the confirmation that the EFI-coordinated CLEARING HOUSE project on urban forest-based solutions (UFBS) has been selected for funding by the European Commission. EFI will coordinate 27 project partners from Europe and China in a joint European-Chinese Collaborative Learning project on the role of Urban Forest-based solutions for sustainable urbanisation and resilient cities.
Trees and forests are a proven nature-based solution that contribute to sustainable urban development. Their potential for delivering ecosystem services, enhancing biodiversity and contributing to the well-being of urban societies is often underestimated and underused. CLEARING HOUSE provides evidence and tools that facilitate mobilising the full potential of urban forest-based solutions for rehabilitating, reconnecting and restoring urban ecosystems. UFBS comprise every measure a city can take to address urban development challenges by deploying tree-based ecosystems.
CLEARING HOUSE will review existing knowledge and will collect new data from large scale analyses, and evidence emerging from the comparative analysis of ten case studies in Europe and China, including a citizen science approach. Knowledge will relate to the social, economic and policy drivers of UFBS, their design and implementation, and their impacts on urban ecosystem and human well-being across continents. CLEARING HOUSE implements a co-design approach early in the project to ensure that its research programme exactly fits the demand of end-users, and engages stakeholders and scientists in problem-oriented knowledge generation through a set of targeted learning mechanisms. CLEARING HOUSE then develops user-targeted outputs to support cities, planners, business and civil society in implementing UFBS. Inter alia, decision support tools such as an online application, a global benchmarking tool and guidelines will provide knowledge on the design, governance and management of UFBS, and on sustainable business models relating to them. Target group specific communication and dissemination activities complement the project. These include Sino-European science-policy symposia targeting senior decision-makers, activities targeting businesses and civil society organisations, and measures reaching out to citizens including schoolchildren.
The project will be implementing the EFI strategy from several angles and will be crucial for EFI’s work on urban forestry in the coming years. It is also a milestone project as it will be the first truly European-Chinese research and development project on urban forestry. The total budget for the 4 year project is 7.7 million EUR, of which the EC is contributing about 5 million.