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

 

 

Removal of Hoddle Street trees follows disturbing trend

Hoodle street trees

Roadworks on Melbourne’s notoriously congested Hoddle Street aren’t just proving a nightmare for commuters, but also for some of Melbourne’s mature street trees. Local residents and a tree expert have condemned the felling of 16 mature plane trees, with more to go to make way for the roadworks.

VicRoads Acting Project Director, Catherine Gunn, said, “The decision to remove trees from Hoddle Street was made following detailed investigation and careful consideration and we continue to work hard to minimise our impact on the local environment.”

But, others are not convinced with Paul Collins, a local publisher, saying, “It’s quite saddening to see trees going, to be replaced with a lane that is going to get everybody down to the next traffic jam, two minutes faster.” Many agree, saying in such a concentrated urban area every tree is precious.

Many trees have been lost in Melbourne in recent times, including 400 for water pipe works along St Georges Road, Northcote. The West Gate Tunnel project could see the loss of almost 750 trees and more than 100 will be removed for the Metro Tunnel project.

Dr Greg Moore, the chair of the National Trust of Victoria’s Register of Significant Trees, said, “That section of Hoddle street is pretty wide, has lots of bitumen, but those trees did provide a bit of relief, particularly on a hot day. The problem of all these tree removals is that inch by inch we’re losing more and more of the tree cover that Melburnians have taken for granted. You start nibbling away at your urban tree population, and it’s possible that you lose a whole forest, simply by removing one tree at a time.”

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/hoddle-street-locals-appalled-as-trees-chopped-down-for-roadworks-20180110-h0gfmu.html

Urban trees are growing faster than rural ones – but is that a good thing?

urban trees are growing faster

A newly published study, completed by researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Munich (TUM), concluded that urban trees can grow up to 25% faster than their rural counterparts. You’d think that’s a good thing, right?

Unfortunately, wrong. Per the study, the fast growth rate of urban trees is believed to be a direct result of climate change – specifically the heat island effect (HIE). HIE is an urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities and causes a range of problems, including: increased heating and cooling costs, limited outdoor recreation, poor quality of life, and heat-related mortality.

In urban heat islands, higher-than-normal temperatures boost photosynthesis which cause trees and other forms of vegetation to grow faster. Sounds great, but the very temperatures that are causing urban trees to grow fast are also causing their early demise.

While findings vary within different climate zones, the research concludes that urban trees must be treated with extra care and consideration in light of this accelerated aging process, ensuring they can last the distance and continue to provide the many benefits that they deliver.

Source: https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/urban-trees-growing-faster-rural-trees

Urban trees don’t just keep us cool – they also keep us warm

urban trees

The cooling power of trees in urban areas has long been known. Now, scientists have learned that urban trees can also provide warmth by shielding homes and offices from the chill of cool winds.

A new study, published in the journal Advances in Water Resources, could help urban planners to design urban landscapes to enhance peoples’ comfort and prevent energy loss, while also improving weather forecasts by helping meteorologists predict the impact of storms on structures and pedestrians.

Marco Giometto, who wrote the paper as a civil engineering postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC), said, “Wind pressure is responsible for as much as a third of a building’s energy consumption. We were surprised to find such a dramatic decrease in wind speed. Trees act as a filter, protecting us from what’s above, that is, high wind speeds, turbulence and particulate matter.”

The scientists used remote-sensing laser technology to design a highly-detailed computer model of a Vancouver neighbourhood down to every tree, plant, and building. A computer simulation then played out how different scenarios — no trees, trees in full leaf, and bare trees — affected air flow and heat patterns on the streets and homes, and compared them against ten years of measured wind data from a nearly 100-foot tall research tower operated by the university in the same Vancouver neighbourhood.

The researchers found that removing all the trees could increase wind speed by a factor of two, “which would make a noticeable difference to someone walking down the street,” Giometto said. Secondly, the scientists found that removing all the trees around buildings increased the buildings’ energy consumption by as much as 10% in the winter and 15% in the summer.

“The beneficial effects of trees in reducing wind speed was actually well known by farmers before this study,” he said. “Now we have a tool to quantify it and help the design of future windbreaks to maximize their effects.”

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/09/17/urban-trees-protect-buildings-high-winds-cold-temps-air-pollution/

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/

Council trees now quantifiably valued, with soil vaults delivering huge ROI

stratacell treepit

All city councils have an asset register detailing the value of assets like roads, parks, street furniture, and so on. Increasingly – and rightly so – trees are being included as quantifiable assets. In the past, it has been hard to quantify the value of trees, but today there are a number of methodologies for doing so. One such method, the Burnley Method – developed by Dr Greg Moore at the Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture Limited, Burnley Campus – is now being widely used and accepted. Available for download here http://croydonconservation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Burnley-method-Tree-value-pdf..pdf

The City of Melbourne are pioneers in valuing their trees and looking after them accordingly. In fact, residents can even email local trees to raise concerns about their health or express their appreciation and affection for the tree. By putting a value on trees, councils are able to protect them in new and quantifiable ways. For example, if a developer is building near a valuable tree, the council may require them to pay a bond – refunded provided the tree is unharmed post construction. If a developer destroys or removes a tree without permission, the council is able to sue that developer for the value of the tree per their register. All of this is effective and much-needed motivation to keep our valuable urban trees safe.

A council’s asset register forms a key part of their balance sheet. As the assets degrade over time, there is depreciation. Spend money on their assets, and there is growth. Naturally, councils want to spend money wisely in order to generate the greatest return on investment.

Tree Planting using Stratacell

Installing the underground soil vault system beneath the parking lot.

Internationally, providing enough shade in carparks is a big issue. Not only does shade drastically improve the shopping experience, it also prolongs the life of the pavement. In the City of Belmont, Perth, Citygreen’s Stratacell system had a massive impact on the council’s bottom line. In an asphalt carpark next to an oval, five London Plane trees were planted in quite narrow islands, with adequate space and soil volume provided using the Stratacell system beneath the carpark pavement. The cost for the five trees (including the Stratacell system) was $50,000.

Four years later, as reported by Council, the trees have grown at an unprecedented rate – from a 75mm/3” trunk diameter at time of planting, to 250mm/10”. Today, according to the Burnley method, these trees are valued by Council at $17,500 each – an amazing return on investment in just four years, with so much growth (literally and financially) still to come.

As a comparison, the same council has the same species growing in a nearby carpark using the conventional method. The carpark was laid, a square cut in the pavement, some curbing placed around the edges, roadbase dug out, and a soil loaded into the hole. Planted 15 years ago (versus only four), these trees are valued at only $510 each. Of course, the initial outlay was much less ($250 per tree), but the return on investment does not compare.

tree comparison

Essentially, using the Citygreen soil vault system, this innovative Council was able to grow trees worth 34 times as much – in one quarter of the time!. As more emphasis is placed on generating ROI in relation to the value of trees, adopting innovative technology which enables trees to thrive in urban environments must be a priority. Of course, this is not just about improving councils’ bottom lines, but also improving the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve.

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