U.S. non-profit generates private funding for urban trees

Washington Park Arboretum

Despite evidence that urban trees offer a diverse range of benefits – from improving air and water quality to reducing energy costs, improving human health, and even storing carbon – they are disappearing at an alarming rate from cities across the U.S.

A recent paper by two Forest Service scientists reports that 36 millions trees are lost each year in U.S. metropolitan areas. The reasons are largely financial, with many municipalities unable to find enough money to finance green projects. It’s been reported there’s a growing recognition of the inequity of tree-canopy distribution in U.S cities, with vast cover in wealthy areas and far fewer trees in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Add to this the difficulties posed by drought and increased temperatures due to climate change, and it’s clear to see why urban trees are suffering.

However, good news is on the horizon. To help find more funding for urban trees, some local governments, including Austin, Texas, and King County, Washington are running pilot projects with a non-profit organisation called City Forest Credits (CFC) in Seattle. The projects are generating funding for city tree canopies from private companies and individuals who wish to offset their carbon emissions. These companies and individuals buy credits for tree planting or preservation, contributing to greener urban environments.

The credits generated from these projects “are specifically catered to the urban environment and the unique challenges and possibilities there, so they differ from traditional carbon credits,” said Ian Leahy, a member of the CFC protocol board, and Director of Urban Forestry Programs at American Forests – a non-profit conservation group.

Zach Baumer, Climate Program Manager for the City of Austin, and fellow member of the CFC board, said, “I think the work is innovative and potentially game-changing. To harness the market to create environmental benefits in cities is a great thing.”

To be eligible for new carbon credits, city tree projects must follow official procedures for urban forests. These include rules covering specific factors like the location and duration of a project, and how the carbon will be quantified.

Source: https://grist.org/article/carbon-offsets-for-urban-trees-are-on-the-horizon/

Introducing Stephen Lovering, Technical Product Consultant, Victoria, Vancouver Island BC, Canada

Steve Lovering Photo - Citygreen

Kicking off 2018, we’re thrilled to welcome Stephen Lovering to the Citygreen team, based in Canada. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK, Stephen has spent the last five years assisting municipalities, design professionals, and contractors with innovative solutions and products relating to the building industry. Previous to that, he worked as a Landscape Architect designing new communities in and around Calgary, Alberta.

The common thread connecting all his previous roles is an in-depth understanding of how landscapes effect the way people live and move within their community, and the impact this has on their happiness and health. Well-designed green spaces and well-located tree canopies enable people to move around streets, parks, and playgrounds easily – providing a raft of physical, mental, and economic benefits in the process.

As Technical Product Consultant at Citygreen, Stephen will collaborate closely with councils, municipalities, and design professionals in Canada to incorporate cutting-edge urban landscape solutions into their projects, while supporting contractors with best practice techniques and technical knowledge around the installation of Citygreen products. Together, they’ll be addressing issues around public health, lack of tree canopy coverage, and stormwater development – contributing to our overriding vision of a world where sustainable green space is within reach of every person, every day, and natural resources are utilized (not wasted) for the benefit of mankind.

To get in touch with Stephen, call 778-533-7764, email stephen.lovering@citygreen.com, connect with him on LinkedIn, or book a meeting time below.book a meeting

 

 

Asset Handover – Who is Assessing the Trees

assessing trees

The Urban Forest and Urban Greening are increasingly being recognised as hugely beneficial to society. These benefits are so well understood that tree planting is a commonplace requirement of many building permits and development approvals.

Traditionally though, this has often been a half-hearted affair – with budgets dwindling at the end of the construction, subpar trees are chosen, and lowest cost planting methods are utilised. Let’s be clear, low cost is not the issue. Its low ROI and low lifetime value of the green asset that we are looking to improve.

Huge amounts of all tree maintenance issues are a result of a poor decision at design, poor planting methodologies or issues during early tree establishment.

tree maintenance issues

That is the end of the rant… NOW…

Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining. Theodore Roosevelt

Some Ideas on the Solution

Handover inspections – Assess your trees before the contractor handover period ends

Inspection of trees should be conducted at least twice prior to handover of landscaping to any asset holder one of these should be in the growing season and well after planting to allow the trees to respond to planting treatments. These inspections should be completed by an urban forester, arborist, or soil scientist. If any concerns are raised nutrient testing of soil or leaf nutrient tissue should be done or a full arborist report should be completed if the trees are significant. This enables any issues to be identified and also allows time for the contractor to rectify these issues prior to handover. This is all about making sure the tree achieves its intended social or economic ROI for the community. This inspection also reduces risk of later issues with the tree and reduces cost of lifetime tree maintenance.

Review tree planting codes

If you are in the role of developing a planting guideline for urban trees then consider these things;

  • Tree species – Assess what value trees are currently providing in your area. Remember that human habitat value is just as important as wildlife habitat value, because if residents value trees then the process is much smoother. Local trees can provide shade in summer, sunlight in winter (deciduous trees), visual amenity colours or flowers (tourist attraction), wind protection, high canopies that are natural or lifted to allow lines of sight to be maintained. These are just a few. Talk to your local Landscape Architecture Association, these designers carry a wealth of knowledge. #American Society of Landscape Architects #Australian Institute of Landscape Architects #International Federation of Landscape Architects
  • Planting Details / Planting Requirement – Trees need their roots and their roots need soil to grow into. Just thought I’d let you in on that little secret. If you only give your trees a very small amount of root volume / Small tree pit you will have one of these.

Bonsai – tree or shrub that has been dwarfed, as by pruning the roots and pinching, and is grown in a pot or other container and trained to produce a desired shape or effect.

Urban Bonsai – A tree or shrub planted into compacted subgrade. Root growth is limited due to compaction and tree growth is stunted. Occasionally tree root balls are pruned to ensure it fits into is new home. Urban bonsai often results in conflicts between tree roots and pavement causing maintenance headaches.

tree maintenance

Enforce the Codes

  • Handover inspections – Inspect the green assets just as would be done for hard assets
  • Use suitability qualified professionals to review tree planting compliance and tree health prior to handover
  • Extend handover and maintenance periods for price significant or amenity significant tree plantings to ensure that trees are
  • Hold bonds – Tree valuation is a science and accurate financial values can be placed on trees. This method can be used for both new plantings as well as protecting current tree installations.

Urban Greening – Cooling the city one tree at a time

urban greening

City of Adelaide leads Urban Greening Program to mitigate heat island effect.

By Nathaniel Hardy | Citygreen USA – Soil and Horticultural Consultant

With a population of 1.3 million people over a 3,258 km² area, Adelaide is one of Australia’s rapidly-growing capital cities. Like many cities around the world, the City of Adelaide recognised urban heat island effect was becoming a major problem with an increasing impact on the health and wellbeing of its people. An urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities, urban heat island effect causes a range of problems, including: increased heating and cooling costs, limited outdoor recreation, poor quality of life, and heat-related mortality.

The City of Adelaide piloted an innovative Urban Greening Program, whereby they used thermal imaging and aerial heat mapping to identify areas with the hottest temperatures. This heat map was then overlayed onto a geographical map, enabling hot spots to be identified and transformed into opportunities for city greening. A plan was then created to mitigate heat island effect in these areas with an innovative curbside plantout program.

street garden

With a number of roads and city blocks identified, holes were cut in the pavement between carparks, Citygreen’s innovative Stratacell system was installed, and trees were planted – ensuring adequate space and uncompacted soil for the trees to thrive without impeding the surrounding pavement and / or infrastructure. Crucially, because curbside plantouts were implemented between car parking spots, no carparking space was lost.

urban greening

So far, numerous trees have been planted via this program, which continues to roll out across the city. Whilst it is too early to know the impact in terms of urban heat island specifically, community feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with trees beautifying previously-drab urban streets and providing the promise of future shade.

New York’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry. Showing in 10 megacities an increase in urban greening would achieve an annual half-million saving in heating and cooling costs. [1]

[1] https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/how-much-are-trees-worth-to-megacities/537972/

Should urban trees be funded as part of a city’s public health infrastructure?

city trees

A new report, released by conservation-focused non-profit The Nature Conservancy, says yes. Urban trees are proven to aid mental health, decrease obesity and other health risks, and generally make us happier. Therefore, they are an important public health asset and should be funded as such.

Robert McDonald, a lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy and co-author of the report, said, “Just like the public health sector has gotten used to thinking about walkable cities as something they need to care about, we’re advocating that they need to think about nature and parks as part of that quest.”

McDonald hopes that cities will start to integrate urban forestry into their other health, wellness, and environmental initiatives. Despite the benefits, there are multiple reasons why urban trees fall by the wayside. Primarily, it’s a process that often requires the coordination of multiple agencies – not just forestry, but other departments like transportation and water. McDonald said, “We’ve set up our cities so there’s one agency to manage trees and parks, and they don’t have a health mandate. Other agencies do care about health, but don’t have a mandate to plant trees.” McDonald says that bringing different agencies together and including nature in planning conversations is an important first step in forging that link.

Of course, the cost of trees can be a barrier, but there is evidence showing they have significant monetary value. Researchers at SUNY’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry estimated that trees in megacities carry a payoff of roughly $500 million, including half a million dollars saved in cooling costs and $11 million saved through improved storm water remediation.

“We’re trying to get people to think of street trees not just as ‘nice-to-have’ things, but as a piece of infrastructure for your city that you’d be willing to invest in with a bond just as you’d be willing to with another health or infrastructure initiative.”

Source: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/10/how-should-we-fund-urban-forestry/541833/

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

 

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