“When we pay attention to nature’s music, we find that everything on earth contributes to its harmony.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan
Twenty first century cities are characterized by tall skyscrapers, high residential densities, improved public transport infrastructure, as well as buildings of historical heritage. More people are moving from rural to urban areas, with the proportion of global urban population set to increase from 14% in 1900 to over 66% in 2025.
It is unfortunate that despite this trend, many urban areas lack adequate green infrastructure thus the ratio of green areas to built up areas is low. This gives inhabitants the feeling that they live in a ‘concrete jungle’ and are divorced from the natural world, contrary to earlier times when trees had a dominant influence upon human life and were sacred in many cultures.
„Don’t underestimate the ability of children to help drive change!“Jo Sayers (The Mersey Forest)
Urban forests serve as a biodiversity hub and enhance resilience to environmental changes. As one of the most significant ecosystems for CO2 reduction from the atmosphere, forests do not only mitigate climate change. They also increase societal benefits, improve the quality of life and shelter the declining species of manifold flora and fauna. To spread this knowledge and to preserve and restore forest ecosystems, education for sustainable development is key.
Global biodiversity is decreasing at an alarming pace. It occurs in remote wilderness areas but also right at our doorsteps. Nature is everywhere, and it is facing a global crisis. As such, the PopUp Forest movement is activating a civic response to locally address biodiversity loss and drive momentum towards the UN2020 Convention on Biological Diversity.
This event, to be held in China, will gather representatives from 190 countries to reaffirm their commitment to nature. Its positive outcome is of great importance to steer the political decision-making process regarding biodiversity degradation.
The last SOFO,
published in 2018, for the first time ever discusses
the role of urban forests under the framework of the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDG). In response to the accelerated urbanisation
coupled with climate change dynamics, urban forests are viewed as a valuable
contribution to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient
and sustainable” (SDG 11). Both in theory and practice, urban forests and trees
have a positive impact on urban environmental conditions and citizens´
livelihoods and well-being.
Urban environmental challenges require on-site environmental solutions. As such, green infrastructure is
widely proposed as a feasible measure towards the resilience and sustainable
development of urban areas.
Urban forests represent the back-bone of urban
green infrastructure by connecting the rural and city interface, and they
provide both environmental and social benefits given that an adequate
implementation and management is in place. However, all efforts may fail if
there are not consistent and universal tools to quantify and characterize the necessary
factors involved in the practice, policy and decision-making process. That is
why we should consider the potentials of integrating urban forests within the
National Forest Inventory.
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.
EFI and EFUF combining strengths to facilitate urban forest-based solutions employment in Europe
The majority of Europeans are now living in cities and urban agglomerations, facing several environmental issues – including climate change. However, cities are also major drivers and facilitators in finding solutions for handling these challenges. Urban forests – trees, woodlands and forests in and around cities – can play an important role in the transition towards urban resilience and a green and sustainable economy.
Building on their mutual strengths, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding strategic collaboration on research and policy in the field of urban forestry on Friday, 30th November 2018. This collaboration will further the understanding of the potential of urban forests, forestry, nature-, and bio-based solutions in supporting the development of sustainable cities. Both organisations will jointly develop a strategic approach to facilitate the employment of urban forest-based solutions in European cities, through coordinated communication, research and development efforts. Throughout the collaboration, EFI’s forest-based scientific experience and its European-wide science-policy network and EFUF’s multidisciplinary network with local authorities, practitioners and researchers will be complementary in developing a stronger discourse on urban forest-based solutions.
A first common initiative developed within the MoU framework, is the launch of the Call for Abstracts for the 22nd session of the European Forum on Urban Forestry in Cologne (Germany). The EFUF2019 conference has been branded “Urban Forests: Full of Energy” and will focus on the role of urban forests as providers of energy, both through woody biomass and through physical activity, art, learning and collaborative working. EFUF is organised at the “Waldlabor” (Forestlab) in Cologne, which is a magnificent place for exchanging knowledge based on participatory science and experiments.
Can urban foresters really win the minds and hearts of urban dwellers when stressing the ecosystem services forests and trees provide?
Street trees are contested elements in the urban landscape, and the source of many complaints towards local authorities and tree managing agencies. Discussions on street trees can be intense and emotional, so it is good to understand where the discussions are grounded in and to understand citizens’ relations with trees. In this post I will explore if we can build on the concept of social representations to find win-win solutions regarding urban tree management.
Social representations explain how different social groups develop different understandings of an issue, based on their values, understanding, beliefs, knowledge, practice etc. (Moscovici 2000; Buijs et al. 2008). They are not individual cognitive representations, but socially constructed through social interaction, both within and between groups (Buijs et al. 2011).
We are hereby announcing the International Conference Urban Forests – Full of Energy taking place inCologne, Germany, from 22 – 24 May 2019 and call for abstracts to contribute to our discussions. Deadline for abstract submission is 1 February 2019
THE CONFERENCE AND VENUE
Since 20 years, the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) is a unique meeting place for forest and greenspace managers, planners, architects, researchers, public authorities and policy makers to share interdisciplinary experience and good practices within the field of urban greening, urban forests and urban forestry.
Urban forests are vibrant places for multifaceted recreational activities, social gathering and mental restoration, but also provide biomass for an urban bioeconomy. They are full of energy. And so is the venue of this years’ conference: the German Sport University Cologne – the perfect location to explore energetic interactions of trees and human beings.
The Kottenforst, a forest of over 4000 hectares large that together with the Siebengebirge on the opposite side of the Rhine, holds Bonn in a green embrace. So close yet so unknown to some. The Kottenforst dominates and clearly delineates the west of the city, perched on the Venusberg, a southern hill of the Ville massif. It is even visible from our EFI office.