Glimpsing through the trees – Round of introductions to projects on urban green space, trees, and human health and well-being

Glimpsing through the trees – Round of introductions to projects on urban green space, trees, and human health and well-being

On the second day of the Urban Forestry Days (23 – 24 March 2021), policy planners, decision-makers, practitioners and researchers from all around the globe gathered online to explore the role of urban forests for health infrastructure. The two-day collaborative event of integrated Urban Forestry activities was hosted by the European Forest Institute (EFI), the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) and the Horizon 2020 CLEARING HOUSE project and welcomed 750 unique participants from over 68 different countries. The afternoon session on projects exploring linkages between urban green spaces, trees, and human health and well-being invited participants to glimpse through the trees and learn about projects fostering urban green space development.

Glimpsing through the trees, Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Starting off the session, Annebel Soer (EFI) presented Green4C (GreenForCare), a project looking at nature activities that promote physical and mental well-being, health and social inclusion. The three-year project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, aims to contribute to the development of Green Care entrepreneurial opportunities and to facilitate capacity and skills for students, researchers, professionals and practitioners. New learning approaches and platforms step into place that help develop and enhance knowledge exchange in the field of Green Care.

Walking further down the green path, Tadhg MacIntyre (Maynooth University) took participants on a tour to learn about natural ways to foster urban mental health and well-being: GoGreenRoutes. The project pursues to grow nature-connectedness across Europe, Latin America, and China. Restoring our natural surroundings and ensuring accessibility to urban green spaces are essential steps to promote increased usage of green corridors, increased ways of active mobility, and contributing to society’s health and well-being. A multidisciplinary consortium of 40 organisations teams up to link participatory approaches and citizen science with digital innovation, co-creating so-called “Urban Well-being Labs” in six “Cultivating Cities”, developing a set of environmental quality indicators and exchanging lessons-learnt among different “Seed Cities” and a “Cross-Pollination Network”. Let’s start sowing!

People enjoying a park with multifunctional GBI, Photo by Hector Argüello Canals on Unsplash

How to ENABLE green and blue infrastructure (GBI) potential in complex social-ecological regions? A systematic approach for assessing local solutions was presented by Erik Andersson (Stockholm University Resilience Centre). For society to thrive in urban areas, cities need to provide social and environmental benefits. This can be achieved through well-designed GBI, which comes with significant potential to deliver multifunctional opportunities for social inclusion, health and human well-being, stormwater retention and habitat functions. Focusing on five case study sites, ENABLE examines how and under what conditions people favour those benefits the most. The project further looks into the distribution of GBI benefits among urban residents and their accessibility and how to ensure a GBI benefit-flow in the long run.

So how should a forest look like to make us feel well and to contribute to our health? And can this be aligned with site-specific biodiversity conservation and forest ecosystem management? A group of researchers united within the scope of the Dr. FOREST research project to answer these questions and quantify the impacts of forest diversity on human health and well-being. Michael Scherer-Lorenzen (Freiburg University) gave insights into the effects and underlying mechanisms with which tree diversity in temperate forests influence human health and well-being.

Time to dive into the forests of Belgium. Katriina Kilpi (Nature Minded) introduced the benefits of strategically designed forest bathing trails to enhance resilience, health and well-being and highlighted the need for nearby and accessible nature spaces. Furthermore, Katriina Kilpi presented the International Forest Therapy Days (IFTDays), which provide a meeting place for international forest therapy practitioners, scientists, and people eager to apply nature’s healing effects in their work. Throughout a range of events in nature, participants are invited to learn about different practices, share their knowledge and experience, and expand their tools regarding forest-based health practices.

Experiencing nature with all senses, Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

It is in our nature to network – Bettina Wilk (ICLEI) introduced NetworkNature, a resource for the nature-based solutions (NBS) community, which aims to spread the word about NBS and to create opportunities to maximise their impact on a local, regional and international scale. Funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme and guided by strategical impact pathways, NetworkNature seeks to synthesise and strengthen the NBS evidence base and engage existing stakeholders and expand related communities. Further activities aim to ensure a mutual informing between NBS science and the policy agenda and accelerate the uptake of NBS across different sectors. Learn more here.

The session packed with manifold insights on how urban green spaces provide a window to connect with nature, recreate, interact with others and enhance the way we feel was brought to an end with a short discussion. Stay tuned for the Urban Forestry Days recordings to learn more. Do you want to tell others about an exciting project involving urban green spaces and nature-based solutions? Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with other urban forestry enthusiasts through the myEFUF app – here you can upload posters directly to the app or create a local event via the marketplace. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play.

 -The CLEARING HOUSE project has received funding from the European H2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Grant Agreement n° 821242.-

Glimpsing through the trees – Round of introductions to projects on urban green space, trees, and human health and well-being

Research, Practice and Perspectives on Integrated Forest Management and Urban Forestry – Contributions by young researchers and practitioners

In the scope of the Urban Forestry Days (23 – 24 March 2021), young researchers and practitioners from around the globe shared their work amongst an international audience. Clive Davies, Chair EFUF International Steering group, moderated the virtual session and highlighted the relevance of giving young scientists a voice. From street tree pits to Peruvian ecosystem landscapes and LiDAR data - browse through all contributions in one playlist here or dive into it one by one:

Looking ahead to spring and summer 2021 – imagine yourself on a sultry afternoon in the middle of the city centre. A narrow street flanked by buildings might not look like the first choice to take to cool down – or does it? With an extensive range of impermeable hard surfaces in the urban environment, incoming solar radiation is easily trapped and retained, causing the urban heat-island effect, which negatively impacts a city’s liveability as well as health and well-being of its citizens through heat stress. With a multifunctional network of urban green and blue infrastructure stepping into place, heat-reduction measures can be taken. For instance, trees help mitigating heat stress at the street level through shade provisioning and the process of evapotranspiration.

Amelie Claessens (IUCN Urban AllianceUniversity of Antwerp, Belgium) examines the cooling effect of trees in street canyons with the help of the EUREC-air laboratory of the University of Antwerp and local citizen scientists. To do so, she measures temperature from April 2020 until April 2021 on 37 points throughout three adjacent street canyons with a similar orientation but with different numbers of trees. As a result, a high-resolution map of intrastreet variations will be created. With this map’s help, it will be feasible to carry out comparisons on a spatial and temporal scale, examining heat stress severity to humans. Eager to learn more? Watch Amelie´s contribution here or read more about her research here.

The benefits urban green infrastructure (GI) provides can be harnessed best when involving all stakeholders that benefit directly and indirectly from those. Public awareness is crucial for GI development to be perceived, understood and appreciated widely. However, GI knowledge is mostly shared among professionals. But what about the knowledge of urban residents and their interest in green infrastructure development in residential landscapes? Annie Yuan (University of Toronto, Canada) importantly explored this topic focusing on living green infrastructure (GI) as an emerging concept referring to trees and other vegetated spaces that provide a range of ecosystem services and therefore benefits to citizens. Annie surveyed residents living in the City of Philadelphia, PA, to find out more about what residents already know about the concept of GI and what environmental concerns exist to identify barriers and opportunities to GI development and its management in the long run. Results indicate that most people are interested in recreational aspects and aesthetic values of GI. Explore Annie’s contribution live or scroll through it here to find out more about the future opportunities for GI development in residential landscapes.

Speaking of recreation, there are many different ways that well-being and mental health can be enhanced through activities in woodlands. Becky Duncan and the team of Open Aye C.I.C, Scotland, use creativity in woodlands to enhance mental health amongst diverse groups in their project ‘Wellbeing Of The Woods’. Through a participatory approach and arts therapy practice, this project, supported and funded by Scottish Forestry, engages people from different countries and backgrounds in nature. The setting: Woodlands in Scotland. The equipment: A camera and a backpack packed with all you need for a one-day excursion. Since 2017, over 300 visits to woodlands have been carried out – take yours now.

Given the increasing recognition of tree-based ecosystem services, different politically-driven planting targets have stepped into place in cities worldwide. However, many initiatives neglect crucial topics such as available planting space and growing requirements. Hard landscapes and impermeable soil surfaces do not make tree planting an easy task. High mortality rates of young trees is therefore a common phenomenon. What can be done from an engineer’s perspective to counteract this trend? How can we increase tree growth and long-term survival to help trees reach their species potential and optimise ecosystem services delivery? Dean Bell (Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments, University of the West of England) invites us to learn about his research on the role of multidisciplinary integration in achieving resilient tree pits in hard landscapes, reporting key concepts of engineered solutions through a literature-informed typology. This research’s key message is that multidisciplinary integration is fundamental in achieving climate-ready, resilient and multifunctional tree pit infrastructure in hard landscapes – read more here.

To adequately monitor and ultimately enhance and protect the ecosystem services provided by urban trees, it is paramount to put these services into the equation. Let’s take a look at the example of Poland: How did the relaxed legislation on tree cutting in 2017 impact urban trees and their provision of ecosystem services? Contributions by two young reseachers from Poland importantly assessed this development. Karolina Zięba-Kulawik (University of Agriculture in Krakow, Poland) used a methodology for combining remotely sensed data with field measurements to assess selected tree parameters to estimate ecosystem services (ES) provided by urban trees. The study team determined values of ES provided by trees in 2017 in Racibórz (Poland) and estimated the loss of ES in a period of changing legislation that temporarily allowed removal of trees on private property without permission from city authorities. A main conclusion drawn is that tree inventories require application of a combination of multi-source data analyses. Learn more about Improving methods to calculate the loss of ecosystem services provided by urban trees using LiDAR and aerial orthophotos.

Trees growing on private property have become an essential part of urban green policies. In many places, restrictions are imposed on tree removal on private property. Monitoring compliance of these regulations often results difficult due to a lack of reference data and public administration capacity. Using a method based on LiDAR allows for monitoring green areas, including private properties, despite these limitations. Patrycja Przewoźna (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) applied this method for the impact assessment of the temporary suspension of mandatory permits on tree removal, which was in force in 2017 in Poland. Explore the results about the use of bi-temporal ALS point clouds for tree removal detection on private property, highlighting the importance of regular monitoring of UTC for effective urban tree management. Interested to learn more? Read the full paper.

A new approach to urban green area management was presented by Paolo Viskanic (R3GIS Ltd). The EU-funded LIFE Urbangreen project is trying to improve urban green area management through innovative tools, which help to assess and maximise ecosystem services and prepare cities to better adapt to the effects of climate change. To put this into practice, the main objective is to develop and demonstrate in real-life an innovative technological platform to improve management of green areas in 2 European and one Asian city.

Ramona-Elena Scriban (University Ștefan cel Mare of Suceava, Romania) importantly assessed urban cultural values identified in the forest certification process. Using Romania as a case study, Ramona examined the role of the voluntary forest certification process for the identification of urban cultural values additional to the mandatory forest management planning process and discussed a range of practical examples. Curious about the results? Find out more here.

Last but not least, Sally Torres Mallma (Universidad Ricardo Palma, Peru) took participants on a trip to the Peruvian Lomas Ecosystems Landscape. Her research focuses on integrating Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in Lomas Ecosystems into urban policies for climate change adaptation. Taking into account Lima’s rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation as well as land traffic and inappropriate use, reflecting climate risk management and adaptation gets ever more important. Sally concluded that inside the landscape approach, Lomas Ecosystems within its environmental, social, and economical components should be considered.

Photos: Unsplash

Glimpsing through the trees – Round of introductions to projects on urban green space, trees, and human health and well-being

Welcome to the European Forum on Urban Forestry semester #EFUF2021!

From March to May 2021, the European Forum on Urban Forestry has planned a comprehensive programme with exciting speaker line-ups. In order to guide urban forestry enthusiasts through a wide range of online events, the free app myEFUF has been launched.

The European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) is excited to announce the release of the myEFUF app! COVID-19 challenges did not stop us from creating an extraordinary EFUF experience for this year. myEFUF can now be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and is all set to guide urban forestry enthusiasts through a range of exciting events. myEFUF has been developed by Arbocitynet and the University of Applied Sciences Graubünden with the support of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

What is myEFUF all about?

The app will facilitate knowledge exchange and meetings in a virtual setting. In times of social distance, we want to make it easier for you to connect with each other and keep on networking with Urban Forestry colleagues from around Europe and beyond. We are especially excited to invite you to join local events through the app – from wherever you are based.
 
The app is available in 5 languages: English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. Take the chance to get together for a virtual networking lunch, set-up your own marketplace to discuss specific urban forestry topics or create a local walk around your favourite urban green space and invite others to join online. The events will be organised from March until May 2021. Eager to organise your own event? The marketplace invites you to contribute by creating an online event yourself or uploading a poster or flyer. 

Check out this short video below to get a taste of myEFUF!

myEFUF can now be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play

The Urban Forestry Semester (23 March – 21 May 2021)

Urban Forestry Days (23-24 March 2021)

Two days of integrated urban forestry activities brought together researchers, practitioners and policymakers from around Europe and beyond. 750 unique participants from over 68 different countries joined the conference online to explore the latest developments in urban forestry. Interactive discussions shed light on integrated forest management and experts gave valuable insights about the linkages between urban forests and sustainability transition. Read more about the conference in our blogposts on the linkages between urban forestry and sustainability transition, find out why urban forests are a valuable tool for building metropolitan green areas, learn about the virtual excursion to Kottenforst or watch our conference trailer to explore urban forests from Bonn to Beijing. Hungry for me? Presentations and recordings will soon be accessible via efuf.org.

The future in cities is green – and so are the next weeks!

myEFUF allows everyone interested to view upcoming events at a glance or to browse through the full EFUF2021 programme. We are looking forward to a series of interactive online events with a range of exciting speaker line-ups that will share their urban forestry stories with us – and the next ones are just ahead:

Urban Forestry Friday Morning Live Guest Room (26 March – 14 May 2021)

There are some special Friday mornings ahead of us. Grab your mug of coffee or tea and start off your Fridays with a series of Urban Forestry insights from different perspectives. We are looking forward to early bird get-togethers online with a list of wonderful speakers that are ready to share their Urban Forestry stories with us: Ursa Vilhar (Slovenian Forestry Institute), Renate Späth (Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Consumer Protection (MULNV) NRW), Matilda van den Bosch (IS Global), Chris Baines (environmental campaigner, horticulturist and landscape architect) and Patrick Huvenne (Agency for Nature and Forests, Flanders). Looking forward to seeing you there, check out the app for joining in online.

Photo: Manchester City of Trees

Urban Forestry for a Resilient Future webinars (4, 5, 6 May)

The organisers of the supposed EFUF 2020 conference – Manchester City of Trees – will bring us a series of 3 webinars on the 4th, 5th and 6th of May (15:00 – 17:00 CET). The 2-hour webinars are targeted at practitioners, researchers, policymakers and people eager to learn about the manifold opportunities urban forestry provides to make urban areas more resilient. As part of the European Forum on Urban Forestry Semester 2021, this webinar series will explore urban forests through three main themes.

  • Theme 1: ‘Keeping cities cool and reducing flood risk’ – How our urban forests help to provide resilience, and what we can do to make them more adaptable to climate change and urban expansion
  • Theme 2: ‘The air we breathe and the way we feel’ – The role of the urban forest in meeting our basic life needs and addressing the challenges of physical and mental health
  • Theme 3: ‘Trees and urban design’ – How trees and GI are integral to the development of our towns and cities in creating places where people want to live, work and play and how forest products can help to reduce our carbon footprint.

Registrations are now open – save your virtual spot via Eventbrite.

European Forum on Urban Forestry 2021 (18 – 21 May 2021)

Surviving the City – Urban Forests for nature-based health and happiness

To round off the Urban Forestry Semester 2021, a series of exciting events have been planned in Switzerland by ArboCityNet and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. Get an overview here or check out the events of ‘The Swiss Week’ directly on myEFUF. Depending on the restrictions, there will be hybrid or virtual-only events. 

EFUF2021 weeks – call for local contributions

In these uncertain times, we invite all EFUF sympathisers to organise local events to bring EFUF and urban forestry to your doorstep. Potential contributions include walks, webinars, talks, quizzes, workshops, art exhibitions, games, etc. The EFUF team will help you to bring your event live through the brandnew EFUF.app. The local events are ideally organised between 26 March and 18 May (the “EFUF2021 weeks”), but the EFUF.app stays live and running afterwards. Get in touch with Bianca Baerlorcher (info@arbocitynet.ch) to discuss possibilities.

This article was originally published on MedForest.net on March 30, 2021.

Glimpsing through the trees – Round of introductions to projects on urban green space, trees, and human health and well-being

Join us for a virtual excursion during the Urban Forestry Days

Cannot wait for the Urban Forestry Days (March 23-24, 2021) to be out in the forest? Our 1-minute conference trailer invites you on a journey through urban forests and green spaces from Beijing to Bonn.

The two-day collaborative event of integrated activities on Urban Forestry, hosted by the European Forest Institute (EFI), the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) and the Horizon 2020 CLEARING HOUSE project, brings together advanced practitioners, researchers, sector-leading policymakers, and everyone eager to learn about urban forestry’s latest developments in and beyond Europe. The online conference will be split into two main themes. While Day 1 addresses integrated forest management, Day 2 is themed on urban forests and health infrastructure. Further, there will be a specific focus on Sino-European collaboration. The conference will thus be run in English with Mandarin translations. Join us for lively and interactive talks and register here to secure a virtual seat.

Out in the woods at the Marteloscope Site

A particular highlight of the event will be the virtual excursion to Kottenforst, a 4.000 hectares peri-urban forest area in the southwest of Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia. Join us from any place around the globe to explore the site that serves as a green escape for many of the residents around the Bonn region. Kottenforst, which forms part of the LIFE+ project Villewälder, welcomes its visitors with a tree composition mostly dominated by pedunculate oak, hornbeam and other broadleaved species such as European beech and small-leaved lime. During the virtual field trip, we will look at forests as critical infrastructure, the importance of Integrated Forest Management and recreation for forests and people. There will be the unique opportunity to ask your questions during a “live stream Q&A” with people that manage and research the forest. What drives people to come here, and what are the recreational and social functions of Kottenforst? And of increasing interest: In what way did the COVID-19 lockdown affect urban forestry and attitudes towards urban green spaces?

If you cannot make it to the virtual field trip on 24th March, we’ve got you covered – for all those not able to join, we will be preparing an interactive and digital alternative that will allow you to explore Kottenforst from your smartphone at any time.

Gathering video material for the virtual excursion

Register here to join and connect with experts from a broad network across different disciplines to discuss ongoing research and perspectives on sustainable cities, health and trees. We are looking forward to walking and working together towards greener cities! 

-The CLEARING HOUSE project has received funding from the European H2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Grant Agreement n° 821242.-

Photo credits: Maria Schloßmacher