The City of Melbourne has joined forces with the prestigious University of Melbourne to create a new study program on urban forestry. The inaugural Australian School of Forestry will be held from 1-6 December 2019. It is the first course of its kind in Australia – and one of few study programs in the world dedicated to understanding and preserving urban forests.

The program offers an interactive learning experience delivered by some of Australia’s leading urban forest practitioners and researchers. It will explore environmental and social issues impacting urban forests, and how cities can continue to enjoy healthy street trees in the face of increasing challenges.

In terms of delivery and structure, the program will include a combination of skills-based workshops, case studies and field visits, during which participants will be introduced to real-world challenges facing urban forestry. It is suitable for all professionals in the urban greenspace industry, community advocacy, environmental health, and policy management with a desire to develop their skills and knowledge in the multi-disciplinary field of urban forestry.

The program was introduced by Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood, who spoke about the development of program and the importance of street trees to Melbourne culture.

“Our tree-lined streets contribute enormously to Melbourne’s liveability, from providing much needed shade in summer to mitigate the urban heat island effect to helping reduce stormwater run-off and pollution. After a decade of drought and extreme heat many of our trees are in accelerated decline and we face the challenge of climate future proofing our urban canopy”, he said.

“Our dedicated Urban Forest and Ecology teams have become world leading in research, mapping and recording every tree in our municipality, developing biodiverse planting programs and building a resilient urban forest that can tolerate and continue to thrive in future climatic extremes.”

“We are excited to partner with the University of Melbourne in sharing this expertise to expand the network of urban forest experts working in government, industry and the community.”

Unlike a traditional workshop or conference, the program is expected to facilitate deep engagement around issues of urban forestry, planning and management. As University of Melbourne Associate Professor Stephen Lively said, “the urban forest is a complex and dynamic system, supported by many decision-makers, stakeholders and communities that sometimes have opposing views”.

It is wonderful to see leading academics, practitioners and policy experts coming together to share knowledge for the betterment of our built environment.

For more information on the Australian School of Urban Forestry, visit the official website.