“Urban forestry is not a one-size-fits-all solution; each city and region, with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, requires tailored strategies”

In its new publication that want to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of urban forestry worldwide, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) emphasizes the natural variety found in environmental, cultural and socioeconomic contexts around urban forests. Specifically, it presents compelling reasons why various urban forestry methods may not universally apply due to the diverse range of pressures, environmental situations, cultural influences, and governance systems worldwide. Urban forests, trees and green spaces play an important role in enhancing the quality of urban life, but their benefits are still not equally accessible to all. Consequently, the report is segmented into region-specific viewpoints that discuss the circumstances in different continents. These distinct perspectives lead to unique approaches and tactics for urban forestry initiatives and nature-based solutions.

The report was launched at the 2nd World Forum on Urban Forests in Washington DC and it advises on the necessity for action to achieve global goals, especially due to the escalating challenges posed by climate change in urban areas.

European Urban Forests

The perspective from Europe was provided by Clive Davies, Rik De Vreese, Ian Whitehead and Mariateresa Montisci, from the Urban Forestry Team of the European Forestry Institute (EFI) located in Bonn.
Over the last 40 years, Urban Forestry (UF) has significantly grown across Europe, tracing its roots back to centuries-old peri-urban forest management or in the creation of botanical gardens in the middle of the city.

Nowadays, even with some exceptions, municipalities evince an increasingly conspicuous dedication towards reconciling urban expansion with the imperative for high-quality green spaces. Achieving such harmonization necessitates the embrace of innovative methodologies and novel strategies for project implementation.
EFUF serves as a prominent benchmark, accumulating extensive experience in organising the Forum that facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise within the realm of urban forestry among different stakeholders such as managers, researchers, practitioners, consultants and representative from groups (e.g. lobbyists, envNGOs, volunteers groups, associations etc.)

The diverse geography and culture of Europe influence the various challenges and approaches embraced in urban forestry practices and governance. Therefore, it was deemed necessary to divide Europe into sub-regions, following the key themes:

  • Nordic/Scandinavia: Health equalities, integration, adaptive management.
  • Northwest Europe: Mosaic governance, partnerships, stakeholder engagement, environmental education.
  • Mediterranean: Urban heat island impacts, urban cooling, fire hazards.
  • Central Europe: Levels of participation, inadequate policy linkage, climate change/species adaptation.
  • Southeast Europe: Rural urban migration and lack of integrated policies.

Taking into consideration this vast geographical and thematic diversity, the incorporation of case studies from disparate regions shows how some cities and regions are investing in nature-based solutions to enhance the welfare of their communities. The journey is still long and uphill because urban forests are still seen as a lesser priority and their implementation still faces a lot of barriers but we need to be optimistic that things may unfold in the best possible manner!

Curious about the report? Download it now and delve into the insight shaping urban forests around the world!