Urban green: trees and the city

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Trees, London

Ed.ward on Flickr

I was reading BLDBLOG on crypto-forestry in the Netherlands and was wondering if anything quite as exciting might exist in the UK.

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There is a growing recognition that trees and woods provide a whole variety of benefits which are particularly important to the quality of life for the millions of people who live and work in urban areas.

Not quite as exciting, but undoubtedly true. Unfortunately our National Urban Forestry Unit, where this quote comes from, closed in 2005. However, fear not, for electronic copies of all their Urban Forestry in Practice: Case Studies are still available here.

– Trees Matter
– Cost Effective Woodland Planting on Derelict Land
– Community Orchards in Small Towns
– The Effects of Urban Woodland upon Air Quality

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Wild-Net.org also lead me to the Black Country Urban Forest, which is a ‘partnership of the voluntary sector and local government with the aim of making urban forestry the characteristic landscape of one of England’s industrial areas.’

Dudley MBC describe the 36,000 hectare BCUF as a ‘mosaic of woodlands and individual trees in streets, parks and gardens across Dudley and the other Black Country boroughs.’

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Over in the USA there’s an interesting project at the University of Washington on Human Dimensions of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. They cover a range of topics looking at our perception of, and behaviour regarding, the natural environment in cities.

Their Urban Trees and Traffic Safety project looks at the evidence for a ‘no-tree transportation policy’, i.e. cut them down in case anybody crashes into one. There’s a good list of downloadable PDFs surveying data and policies.

For those having to convince the number crunchers there is also useful material on the economic benefits trees bring to town and city centres.

Scientific studies has found that shoppers respond positively to trees in downtown business districts.

The most positive consumer response is associated with streets having a mature, well-managed urban forest where overarching tree canopy helps create a “sense of place.”

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