Urban trees gain second life as sustainable furniture

urban trees

The benefits of urban trees are well established – from improving mental health, increasing property values, storing carbon, and absorbing rainfall. But, what happens to them when they eventually succumb to disease, urban development, weather, or old age? Traditionally, they are ground up and sent to the tip.

In New Jersey, brothers Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, are giving urban trees a second life – creating furniture and wall art from felled urban trees and selling them via their business, City Bench. “Urban wood is a seriously un-utilized resource in our country’s metropolitan areas,” says Zeb. “The city of New Haven probably takes down around 700 trees a year. We don’t have the capacity to take them all, but we do salvage and mill a lot of them.”

Sawmills generally decline to reuse urban trees for lumber, due to their wear and tear. Ted says, “We hit metal on a majority of the trees we mill, from bullets to electric cables to nails. We revel in it. The beat-up quality is what gives the wood character.”

Touchingly, their main business comes from individuals who have lost beloved trees on their property. Ted says, “We’ve had clients weeping in front of us about the loss. We soften the blow by letting the trees continue to live.”



New trees for Melbourne in response to climate change

trees in response to climate change

Climate change is undeniable with rising temperatures and drier conditions causing many of Melbourne’s established elm and plane trees to struggle. Melbourne City Council and Melbourne University recently teamed up, releasing a report advising which trees to plant to better cope with climate change.

Dr Dave Kendal studied tree inventories from 200 countries and selected 875 species suitable for warmer temperatures and sub-tropical climates. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the council commissioned the study after a startling discovery was made when scientists studied temperatures across Melbourne’s greater metropolitan area. “We found that the centre of the city is 5 degrees Celsius hotter than the outskirts,” Cr Doyle said.

In a bid to cool down Melbourne, 3000 new trees have been planted each year since 2012. With this new insight, council will focus on diversifying the urban forest, introducing Australian native species that thrive in sunny, warm climates such as hoop pines, Queensland brush boxes, and Moreton Bay figs. New exotic tree species that cope with warm temperatures and droughts, such as the Algerian Oak, and flowering tree species, will also be planted.

The city’s urban forest strategy costs $1.5 million each year, but Cr Doyle said it was a worthwhile investment. “We are doing a 100 years policy, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will enjoy the urban forest of Melbourne just like we have,” he said.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.



Should Australian golf courses be turned into urban forests?

urban forests

If you’re an avid golfer, then look away – because you probably won’t be too keen on this idea! Nevertheless, when it comes to expanding our urban forests, golf courses seem an obvious and inevitable target. Consisting of huge areas of open green space used by a relatively small number of players, golf courses could be transformed into multi-purpose urban forests that benefit many more residents.

One such example is The City of Botany, which is currently proposing that the 18-hole Eastlakes golf course on land owned by Sydney Water be turned into 65 hectares of parkland. The mayor, Ray Kenneally, told The Sydney Morning Herald, “With urban consolidation and the desire of more and more people to live closer to the CBD, there is an increasing population that wants places to enjoy Sydney’s great beauty. The Botany wetlands are beautiful, but they are a hidden gem. They’ve been locked up inside these golf courses and inside industrial estates. We now know communities value these great ponds and lakes and the social and environmental heritage they contain, and they would love better access to them.”

In Melbourne, there are 90 golf courses in the metropolitan area, with 10 along the Yarra River alone. It’s reasonable to ask if there are better uses for these extensive areas of urban land, such as returning them to native forest or, in the least, sharing them with non-golfers via the construction of public cycling or walking trails.

Unfortunately, many courses are privately owned or under long-term leases, making this a difficult idea to action. With the importance of urban forests now clear to see though, it’s well worth considering as a means of expanding the accessibility of precious green urban spaces for the benefit of all.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.



Golden Elm on Punt Rd most emailed tree in Melbourne

golden elm tree

In 2013, the launch of the Urban Forest Visual website enabled Melbourne residents to email their favourite trees. Since the launch, more than 3000 emails – not just from Melbourne, but from all over the world! – have been received. The website maps each of Melbourne’s 77,000 trees – colour-coding them by age and health, and assigning each a number and email address.

Originally designed as a method for the public to notify council if a tree was damaged or suffering disease, council was surprised when people started emailing trees simply to tell them how much they loved them.

A golden elm, on the corner of Punt Road and Alexandra Avenue, across the road from the Yarra River and passed by thousands of motorists every day, has emerged as Melbourne’s most popular tree. Emails received include:

“Dear Tree, If you are that big round beautiful low hanging tree I think you are my favourite tree. Such beauty on such an ugly road. Keep up the good work.”

“Hello dearest elm, Do you remember when I used to drive past you and say hello? Why did they ever trim your canopy? Remember how your branches used to spread across the soil? It was glorious.”

“I used to think you were the Magic Faraway Tree when I was a child. Now that I’m an adult, I still look forward to seeing you as I come around the bend after a tedious crawl down Hoddle Street. A loyal friend always there waiting to say hello.”

At least 70 years old, the elm is listed as a tree of state significance by the National Trust. The tree even sometimes sends replies via The City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest team, such as:

“Dear C, So lovely to be appreciated. I am lucky to be well looked after. Some other people have documented how special I am, which you might like to check out: https://trusttrees.org.au/tree/VIC/South_Yarra/Alexandra_Ave_And_Punt_Road. Best wishes, Your special Elm.”

This email correspondence is proof of just how important urban trees really are, providing joy, friendship, and precious childhood memories.

You can email the golden elm, or any other tree in the City of Melbourne, at the Urban Forest Visual website. Or, learn more about innovative tree solutions helping urban trees to thrive here.




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Australia’s first vertical forest apartment complex coming to Brisbane

australia's first vertical forest apartment

An innovative new apartment complex featuring a vertical forest with full-size trees and mature shrubs is set to take Brisbane by storm. The first of its kind in Australia, Walan (located at Kangaroo Point) will be the second apartment collaboration between Brisbane-based architecture firm Bureau Proberts and developer GBW Group.

Cam Ginardi of GBW Group says, “This has never been achieved in apartment living in Australia before. We’ve taken the green wall to new heights by creating a vertical forest.”

Growing up the spine of the apartment’s Main Street elevation, the trees will complement the building’s specially-designed screening, mirroring the nearby tree-studded cliffs of Kangaroo Point.

Liam Proberts, Creative Director of Bureau Proberts, says, “Instead of thinking of them as apartments, we thought of each floor like a house in its own size and connection to the outside. What we set out to achieve was a contemporary ‘Queenslander in the sky’ with all rooms opening to a veranda edge, providing cross ventilation while maintaining privacy. This entirely-glass building engages with the landscape with specially-designed screening that provides a veil between living space and external spaces, while modulating the light and heat of our sub-tropical environment.”

Taking the ever-popular vertical garden one step further, Walan promises to be an exciting new development in urban forest innovation.

To find out more about the latest in green wall technology, click here.



Do trees have friends? Absolutely, says German forest ranger and author

do trees have friends?

Peter Wohlleben, a German forest ranger and best-selling author, has learned many secrets about trees. His latest book, ‘The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries From a Secret World’ has been a runaway success.

In the book, he details the wildly complex and intriguing secret life of trees. And, yes, he believes trees have friends!

Wohlleben says trees, “…can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the ‘Wood Wide Web’ – and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots. These trees are friends. You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light. Sometimes, pairs like this are so interconnected at the roots that when one tree dies, the other one dies, too.”

Despite the book being a best seller, it has been controversial with some German biologists who question his use of language to describe life in the forest. Wohlleben says, “I use a very human language. Scientific language removes all the emotion, and people don’t understand it anymore. When I say, ‘Trees suckle their children,’ everyone knows immediately what I mean.”

With a new appreciation of trees key to our planet’s survival, Wohlleben’s work is nothing short of inspirational.

Buy the book here or read more about urban forests for the future here.



Trees the biggest influence on air quality in inner Sydney

air quality

Residents of Centennial Park, Rushcutters Bay, and Glebe can breathe easy, with researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney, finding that these three areas have the lowest levels of airborne particulate matter in inner Sydney. The joint study between the City of Sydney and researchers from the UTS Plants and Environmental Quality Research Group, surveyed the air quality in 11 sites over the space of a year.

Researchers found that plans for the next 15 years to increase Sydney’s tree canopy cover by 50 per cent would have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution – including dust, dirt and smoke – than if the city were to reduce traffic. “Up until now we’ve only had estimates of Sydney’s air quality which is, perhaps, surprisingly poorly studied. There are only two routine sampling sites, Rozelle and Randwick, providing data,” said Peter Irga, a PhD candidate in the School of Life Sciences.

Sydney Park, Centennial Park, Rushcutters Bay, Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills, Chippendale, Glebe, Haymarket, Zetland, Town Hall and Pitt Street were the 11 sites at which Mr Irga and his team measured the link between urban forestry and dangerous fine airborne particles known as particulate matter. Town Hall, Pitt Street and Haymarket recorded the lowest levels of green space and the highest concentrations of particulate matter. “Regardless of where you are in Sydney, the volume of trees within 100m radii [boundary] of where you are is the most important determinant of the air you are breathing,” Mr Irga said.

Learn more about innovative urban landscape solutions helping trees to thrive in urban areas.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/nsw/the-suburbs-with-the-cleanest-air-in-the-city-of-sydney-20151117-gl0qsl.html

TreesCharlotte to host Fifth Annual Urban Forestry Summit

urban forestry summit

The City of Charlotte earned the moniker, “The City of Trees”, through wise decisions made over the years to invest in, maintain, and protect its tree canopy. Charlotte’s tree canopy is one of the finest urban forests in America, and provides benefits to everyone.

TreesCharlotte was created as a public/private collaboration dedicated to planting trees, primarily through volunteer efforts, and has since established itself as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. TreesCharlotte also educates Charlotte’s residents on the importance of the canopy and ways to plant and preserve trees.

On the 20th of September, TreesCharlotte will present the Fifth Annual Urban Forestry Summit at the UNC Charlotte Center City, including keynote speakers addressing the urban forest’s benefits and innovations in community engagement. David Nowak with the U.S. Forest Service and Larry Selzer, president of The Conservation Fund, are the keynote speakers.

“Every year, the TreesCharlotte Urban Forestry Summit brings together our partners to discuss new, unique and exciting ideas to preserve and maintain our city’s tree canopy,” said Dave Cable, executive director of TreesCharlotte. Cable’s group is working to restore 50 percent of Charlotte’s tree canopy by 2050.

Register for the event at https://www.treescharlotte.org/event/tree-canopy-action-summit-v/.

Or, find out more about innovative urban forest solutions.

Source: https://thecharlotteweekly.com/news/2016/08/treescharlotte-presents-urban-forestry-summit/

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