Advanced Tree Pit Design Enhances Urban Forestry

Citygreen - Advanced Tree Pit Design Enhances Urban Forestry

With increasing urbanization, and more highly concentrated populations within cities, strengthening the green infrastructure is becoming increasingly important. One of the largest opportunities for impact is maintaining and enhancing the urban canopy. This is addressed most readily by advanced tree pit design, which refers to the subterranean structures put in place during planting.

In Minneapolis, the local government conducted research that revealed well-planted trees provide a strong financial incentive in addition to the ecosystem benefits. The research found a $2 million savings between a storm water conveyance system, or subterranean cell systems.

Peter MacDonagh, a landscape architect, said in an ASLA interview, “larger, older trees are far more valuable than younger ones, so work needs to be done to preserve these and use new techniques to enable younger trees to stay in place longer.”

As trees were planted in the past, the soil they were placed in was compacted, causing a lack of nutrients, storm water management, and root establishment. As a result, the trees struggle to thrive and provide their benefits to the local environment and infrastructure. Often, these struggling trees will either die, stop growing, or begin to push through and ruin sidewalks and roads.

The Center for Urban Forest Research calculates that large-canopy trees …outperform small trees…and they do not start adding significant environmental performance until they reach 30 feet,” states Matthew Gordy, a landscape and urban design professional.

By utilizing cell systems, the strain put on the trees’ growth is almost completely eliminated, resulting in lower costs, and increased shade, stormwater management, and overall well being of the populaces and local infrastructure.

Get more information on advanced soil cell systems here.

The Island of Compost

the island of compost

Images from Present Architecture.

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Bringing Kids Back to Nature

project wild thing - bringing kids back to nature

Image from Project Wild Thing

 

A report called Sowing the Seeds, Reconnecting London’s Children with Nature for the London Sustainable Development Commission, shows how “giving children access to nature promotes their mental and emotional well-being and may have a positive effect on the behaviour of some children”.

It said that too many of London’s children “have little or no meaningful contact with natural places in the city”. Because of this, the kids maybe be denied “the many and varied benefits that experiences in nature bring; experiences that many adults understand at a deep emotional level from their own childhood memories”.

The report said because of this lack of connection with nature, kids may grow up “indifferent to nature and unsupportive of the need for environmental stewardship”.

It has several recommendations that should be implemented over the years to “have the potential to make a real difference to children’s relationship with the natural world”.

It recommends that schools and early years settings give greater emphasis to offering children engaging everyday nature experiences within their grounds. “This should be done through the creation of natural play spaces and more extensive and easily accessible habitat areas.”

“Two thirds of London’s area is made up of green spaces or water, and 10 percent is designated as Metropolitan Open Land, yet children’s experiences of natural places in the capital have been in long-term decline, as a result of societal changes that have been unfolding for many years.”

Although London is quite a green city, its “green spaces are not uniformly distributed, and many parts of the city are deficient.” The report said that one third of families visit natural places every two months. One in seven had not made a single visit for a year. This statistic is also worse with children from poorer families.

“Initiatives are fragmented, and grappling with complex issues and challenges.” The report said that only four percent of London’s children are being reached by existing initiatives.

Some of the suggestions from the report include creating natural habitats or wildlife area on school grounds, the establishment of forest schools, the increase of natural conservation projects, and the creation of ‘natural play’ approach to the design of public play areas in parks and green spaces. Other initiatives include community-based projects, city farms, community gardens, horticultural projects, after-school programmes, play ranger schemes and so on.

A campaign called Project Wild Thing is pushing for parents to turn screen time into “wild time” playing and enjoying nature outdoors. The project is a film led movement to get more kids and adults outside, reconnecting with nature. The project, which started in 2010, has gained a growing following and has become a movement of organisations and individuals who share the same passion for the cause.

According to a report from Western Gazette in the UK, Camp Bestival has teamed up with the campaign to “help adults and children reconnect with nature” while being entertained. Camp Bestival runs from July 31 to August 3 at Lulworth Castle, Dorset.

Project Wild Thing’s David Bond told the Western Gazette that the campaign is all about how children need to get outdoors and into nature.

“We’re really passionate about connecting young people and adults with the outdoors because it makes them fitter, it makes them healthier, it makes them happier and it makes them develop better.”

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The Future of Cityscapes Depend on Green Infrastructures

Green Infrastructures

An investigation by a research group called The Resilience of Cityscapes, published in the international Biotope City journal, showed that green roofs, living walls, and greened permeable pavements has a multitude of positive effects.

“The impact of green infrastructure on an urban fabric has been visualised by computer modeling tools. The computer model results showed that all tested green technologies provide benefits to the urban microclimate and water storage capacity,” the report said.

It showed that green infrastructure is the solution to the resilience of cityscapes worldwide. The report said there is a huge trend in urbanisation with more than 50 percent of the world’s population now living in cities.

“Two effects of this influx can be observed: the occupied city area grows and
density increases. At the same time citizens request more infrastructure from cities such as public transport, recreation and sewage systems. City planners are challenged to combine the pressure of growth and integration of satisfactory infrastructure.”

The research monitored 14 green roofs, five living walls and nine surface consolidation methods in the city of Vienna to see their microclimatic effects.

Compared to surfaces like plaster or brick, plants convert sun energy into oxygen and air humidity.

“It is assumed that plants ameliorate the urban microclimate (by adding humidity and reducing radiation and wind speed) while regular surfaces
reduce the thermal comfort of cities. Aside from the positive microclimatic effects plants are also able to store water.”

Plants also improve the predicted mean vote (PMV), which describes the human thermal wellbeing. The research tested an urban area in Vienna under different types of “scenarios”. These include the climate scenario, greening scenario, the minimum greening scenario, and the maximum greening scenario.

The tests found that green infrastructure can act as a buffer for climatic extremes.

“By means of computer simulation, the measurements at test sites have been transferred to representative urban typologies of the City of Vienna. To find out, which microclimatic effect could be achieved by green infrastructure, two greening scenarios have been applied on urban typologies and subjected to today’s and future climatic framework conditions. The simulations make clear, that the urban microclimate can be ameliorated by integration of green infrastructure.”

It emphasised that green infrastructure is the “one appealing solution to improve the resilience of cities against climate change”.

“Apart from the microclimatic effects and the positive influence on thermal comfort, green infrastructure provides a broad range of added values: water retention, health promotion and psychological effects (stress reduction), habitat and habitat connection for fauna and flora, biodiversity and urban farming.”

The report also realised the hindrances to the implementation of green infrastructures such as different types of value on facades where some are often protected. There are also things like different regulations in different cities or the fact that most buildings are privately owned and therefore needs incentives for their properties to be developed into green infrastructure.

These are things that need to be overcome as the report also said that just a single green infrastructure would not be effective in the bigger scheme of things. In order to have the full effect of the benefits of green infrastructures in cityscapes, “a combination of different types of green infrastructure and a network of green infrastructure throughout the city is necessary”. CTA_Full Treepit Library

Cities Alive: A Green Path to The Future

Cities Alive: A Green Path to The Future

 

Cities Alive: A Green Path to The Future:

Years from now, the urban landscape will be a linked “city ecosystem that encompasses parks and open spaces, urban trees, streets, squares, woodland and waterways”.

This is according to a new report called “Cities Alive: Rethinking green infrastructure” by Arup. It says cities should rethink green infrastructure to help create “healthier, safer and more prosperous cities”.

“To realise this vision, green infrastructure has to now take a more influential role in the planning and design of cities and urban environments,” the report said.

Cities Alive is supported by the Landscape Institute and Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew. It says that cities in the future need to look very different from what they are now.

“They will need to address the challenge of rapidly rising urban populations, adapt to the detrimental effects of climate change and provide much more integrated solutions for everything, from energy provision to transport.”

The study has five key points on the future of urban designs. Here are some of the excerpts from the report:

1. Urban green needs to be more than just an aesthetic consideration. It is a fundamental part of an urban ecosystem, which improves social interaction and physical and mental health. Vertical farming may become more popular as urban population grows and available space shrinks. The use of roofs, vertical spaces and basements to grow arable crops could result in shorter, more environmentally friendly distribution routes, healthier diets and fresher foods.

2. Make landscapes work harder, for several end-users and to improve climate change resilience, through a multi-functional design approach. With land at a premium, creating city space for people will call for courageous design. As cities expanded in previous times urban railways went underground – why not underground roads now? Burying key highways will significantly lower pollution, noise, congestion and barriers to movement. This will create huge gains by freeing up city space for people and enhancing the city environment.

3. Designs need to be creative to deliver a green city ecosystem – from both citywide strategic projects to more imaginative uses of space within the layers of the city. Green roofs, walls and facades are likely to become more prominent in cities as we need to exploit and retrofit the layers of the city to find space for recreation and nature. Extensive green networks through the city are the aim of a green infrastructure design approach. Networks can be formed over time to create an encompassing city ecosystem that can support the sustainable movement of people, rebuild biodiversity and provide substantial climate change adaptation.

4. By capitalising on advances in technology to measure the value that nature delivers through ecosystems services, we can optimise the planning and design of urban space to meet future demands. Permeable paving and soft landscape areas will help urgently convert grey to green in future city environments – a simple but vital technology that improves water absorption and slow down rain water run-off. Adaptable public spaces can be designed for multiple functions such as meeting places, markets, entertainment and education places.

5. There needs to be an integrated approach to delivery that links and connects policy to transgress silo-driven cultures and achieve long term benefits. This requires landscape architects to work closely with government, authorities, developers and associated city design consultants. We have to recognise the potential of green infrastructure, but also understand how it can be integrated with other urban systems like energy, transport and resource management. Green infrastructure has to take a more central role in the planning and design of cities.

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