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Singapore beats 16 cities with largest green urban area

Singapore green urban area

Known as ‘The City in a Garden’, Singapore has beaten 16 cities around the world in a study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Almost 30% of the Republic’s urban areas are covered by greenery, putting it ahead of Sydney and Vancouver – which tied for second place with 25.9%, followed by California with 23.6%. Of the 17 cities, Paris has the smallest percentage of urban green space at 8.8%.

Researchers use data from Google Street View to measure green canopy and vegetation around the world using computer vision techniques. The data is then processed to obtain the Green View Index (GVI) which is then presented on a scale of 0 to 100.

Professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab and head of the project, said, “We present here an index by which to compare cities against one another, encouraging local authorities and communities to take action to protect and promote the green canopy cover.”

This result demonstrates the success of Singapore’s long-term urban forest planning. Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, Group Director, Streetscape, National Parks Board, said, “Our roadside greenery forms the backbone of our City in a Garden. NParks manages about 2 million trees along our streets, in parks and statelands. Trees are selected based on their suitability for various habitats, growth habit, place of origin, tree form and function, aesthetics / landscape value, ease of maintenance, and hardiness, such as drought tolerance. Our roadside trees are an integral part of the pervasive greenery that makes Singapore distinctive and together with our parks, gardens and nature reserves, provide diverse opportunities to appreciate nature up close. This is key to our vision of a City in a Garden which is biophilic as it creates an environment that improves the overall physiological and psychological well-being of all Singaporeans.”

New study shows urban trees save $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs per year

urban trees

Urban trees – is there nothing they can’t do? As well as cleaning the air and guarding against soil erosion, they also help cities reduce costs and emissions by providing shade and blocking strong winds against buildings.

A new study from a group of USDA Forest Service scientists published in ‘Urban Forestry and Urban Greenery’ estimates the US supply of urban trees saves close to $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs (electricity and heating) each year. They also result in a cut to emissions valued at $3.9 billion annually.

The researchers wrote, “There is much literature on tree effects on building energy use, but limited estimates at the national scale. There have been national estimates of energy savings from proposed plantings of millions of trees … but none could be found estimating the effects of the current urban forest.”

The big takeaway is not just to plant more urban trees, but to plant them strategically.

According to the study, “Tree size, species (evergreen vs. deciduous), and tree distance and direction from the building all affect building energy use. While results vary by climate zone, in general, large trees to the west side of the building provide the greatest average reduction in cooling energy savings and large trees to the south side tend to lead to the greatest increase in winter energy use.”

Discover more about innovative urban tree solutions here.

Source: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/new-study-urban-trees-save-energy

Foundation announces landscape architects for Chicago Library grounds

landscape architects for Chicago Library

In exciting news, the Obama Foundation recently announced the team of landscape architects that will design the grounds around the Chicago library and museum in Jackson Park. New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has been appointed as lead designer, with Chicago’s Site Design Group and Living Habitats acting as design partners.

Michael Van Valkenburgh said, “Together with Site Design Group and Living Habitats and, of course, with TWBTA [Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects] and InterActive Design, we are committed to creating an OPC that honors the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and at the same time is accessible, inspirational and joyful.”

Having worked on a number of high-profile projects in Chicago in recent years, the firm is known for creating themed public spaces with whimsical elements – including the Maggie Daley Park, The 606 trial, and a new Streeterville park at the base of the One Bennett Park high-rise.

Stay tuned for the first look at the proposed design of the complex, which is sure to create a stir.

Discover more about innovative urban landscape solutions used by landscape architects here.

Source: http://chicago.curbed.com/2017/1/30/14441364/obama-library-chicago-landscape-architects

Measuring the health of trees with the speed of sound

measuring health of trees

Trees can be deceiving – while they may look healthy from the outside, inside often tells a very different story. Wood rot in living trees causes overestimates of global carbon pools, timber loss in forestry, and poor tree health. Wood decay is of particular concern in the tropics, with tropical forests estimated to harbor, “96% of the world’s tree diversity and about 25% of terrestrial carbon, compared to the roughly 10% of carbon held in temperate forests.”

But how can foresters and researchers see into a living tree to measure wood decay? Surprisingly, with sound. A recently published article in Applications in Plant Sciences details methods using a sound wave technology called sonic tomography, tested on more than 1800 living trees in the Republic of Panama.

Greg Gilbert, lead author of the article and Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said, “We don’t yet know where internal decay and damage rank as a cause of tree mortality. Most of the decay is hidden–the tomography now allows us to see how many apparently healthy trees are actually decayed inside.”

Sonic tomography sends sound waves through tree trunks, with the longer it takes for a sound wave to traverse a trunk indicating more decay in the wood. Based on the velocity of sound, the tomograph makes a color-coded image of a cross section of the trunk.

Sonic tomography can also be used for urban forestry. In fact, Gilbert and his colleagues, together with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute will collaborate with Panama City to use tomography to evaluate the health and associated risks of Panama’s urban trees.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/bsoa-mtw010517.php

 

Urban trees in Hobart housing developments a matter of life and death

urban trees

An Ecosystem and Resource Management Expert has said leaving space for trees in new Hobart housing developments is a matter of life and death for the city and its residents. Dr Greg Moore from the University of Melbourne told Leon Compton on 936 ABC Hobart, “We know that the presence of trees is important for the shade, the cooling. We know that there is a correlation between how long people live and the green environment in which they live.”

In fact, more Australians are at risk from death from heat-related problems than from bushfires or falling trees. Dr Moore said, “In the [Victorian] Black Saturday fires, 173 people died in the fires. But 374, more than double, died from heat-related deaths [in 2009], so you’ve got to get the balance right.”

Public planting by councils cannot provide enough canopy coverage alone, so space for trees in private gardens must be considered in housing developments.

Dr Moore said, “There’s not enough public land to provide the level of canopy, which needs to be between 30 and 35 per cent, to achieve the outcomes in terms of health, shade, cooling, and the economic benefits. You have to think about the quality of lives and the sorts of lives people living in those houses are going to have. Melbourne City Council is aiming to take its tree canopy cover from 22 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030. It’s doing that on economic and health grounds. It’s got nothing to do with feeling good about being green and leafy, it’s really hard-nosed stuff.”

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-21/room-for-trees-needed-in-tas-housing-development-plans/7864756

Perth councils take action to stop 90% of trees dying before maturation

trees dying before maturation

In a frightening statistic, more than 90% of trees planted by Perth councils in an attempt to cool hot suburbs will die before maturing. The three main causes of death include:

  1. Defective root systems, due to gradual changes in nursery technologies over the past 50 years
  2. The practice of ‘hydrozoning’, a watering technique used in parks and reserves which prioritises turf and recreational areas over trees
  3. Increasing infill and resulting ‘hardscaping’ which has led to a decrease in soil quality

Recognising the seriousness of this mortality rate, Perth councils are pouring cash into greening, and slight adjustments have been made which will hopefully achieve big results.

Standards Australia has this year released a new Australian Standard aiming to improve the quality of root health in trees. Hydrozoning plans must also be adapted to better care for trees, and lastly soil health must be improved with planning for trees occurring at the same time as planning for infrastructure, allowing for the required volume and quality of soil (mindful of Perth’s already sandy soil).

Arbor Centre Principal, Rob Bodenstaff, said, “You need to engineer in a tree, not expect it to tolerate everything else we do. We do have solutions to all this stuff. It’s not high-level science … you can drought-proof trees and suburbs. Within the same budget we could get far better outcomes. If nothing happens, we’ll have constant celebration of trees being planted and the constant disappointment of realising they have failed.”[1]

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

[1] http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/nine-in-10-trees-planted-by-perth-councils-will-never-mature-expert-20151201-glcnjm.html

San Diego fights climate change with urban trees

climate change with urban trees

Earlier this month, San Diego officials began a fight back against climate change, planting 500 street trees in urban neighbourhoods to boost the city’s tree canopy and meet some of their ambitious climate action plan goals. The trees, planted along Market Street, Imperial Avenue, Ocean View Boulevard, 25th Street and 47th Street, are projected to collectively capture approximately seven million pounds of carbon during their lifespans.

“When we plant more trees, we are making our neighborhoods greener and our air cleaner,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “Every additional tree gets us a step closer to reaching our goal of creating a sustainable future for generations of San Diegans.”[1]

The trees are being funded by a $750,000 grant from the California Department of Forestry. The grant also covers hiring consultants to conduct a citywide inventory of all street trees and to use lasers to determine the city’s tree canopy. This laser survey found canopy coverage has increased from the previous estimate of 6.8% up to 13%, putting the city much closer to meeting its goal of 15% by 2020.

“Trees are incredible multi-taskers and provide so many environmental benefits like sequestering carbon dioxide, capturing storm water, reducing energy costs, extending the life of pavement, increasing property values and providing habitat for wildlife,” said Jeremy Barrick, the city’s urban forestry program manager. “We need everyone to water and maintain the trees we have and plant new trees where appropriate.”[2]

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

[1] http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-government-1202-story.html

[2] http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-government-1202-story.html

Melbourne laneways set to go green

Coromandel Place, Guildford Lane, Katherine Place, and Meyers Place in Melbourne are set to go green as part of the ‘Green Your Laneway’ pilot project by the City of Melbourne.  With over 200 laneways in central Melbourne, totalling nearly 9 hectares, the Green Your Laneway program aims to transform the city’s laneways into relaxing places to sit and enjoy, full of leafy, green spaces with vertical gardens and new trees.

The Green Your Laneway pilot project argues that laneways should be greened for the following reasons:

  • Providing shading and local cooling
  • Improved aesthetics and local amenity
  • Ecological benefits
  • Health and wellbeing flow on effects
  • Increasing landscape permeability (and hence flood mitigation and passive watering)
  • Creating opportunities for relaxation and recreation

Working closely with residents and businesses, preliminary concept designs have been released for the four selected laneways showing a range of greening options that can be considered for each laneway. The concepts will be refined with further community engagement, and funded by the City of Melbourne.

The public is invited to share their views by exploring the initial designs and providing feedback on the Green Your Laneway site.

To find out more about the latest in vertical garden technology, click here.

Source:

https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/melbourne-lanes-to-go-green/

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