Independent groups take action in light of Auckland’s urban forest crisis

Citygreen - Independent groups take action in light of Auckland’s urban forest crisis

Independent groups take action in light of Auckland’s urban forest crisis:

A recent study has found that Auckland has just 6 per cent of its urban forest left, with over half situated on private land. Only 15 per cent is protected by Auckland Council’s ‘Schedule of Notable Trees’, which is the only remaining tool for tree protection since changes to the Resource Management Act in 2012. Study Co-Author, Dr Margaret Stanley, of the University of Auckland, said the city’s urban forest is in, “…a really urgent state of play.”

The benefits of urban forests are clear, with Auckland lagging behind the rest of the world in protecting them. “The study shows the schedule is failing to adequately protect unique native tree species and we need to do much better if we are to protect what is left of the city’s urban forest,” Dr Stanley said.

Charmaine Wiapo overseas a Ngati Whatua-led project to return an area of land at Bastion Point back to native bush. She says Auckland’s urban forest has become, “very fragmented.” In response, 200,000 trees have been planted to link up to tree corridors elsewhere in the city, providing food stock for native birds that fly between them.

Forest and Bird is another group taking action in the face of the crisis. As, “New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation that works to preserve natural heritage and native species,” the group is working on a wildlife network to connect urban habitats in the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges and Hauraki Gulf Islands. The group is also aiming to have trees with ecological value added to the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse, agreed tree protection rules had taken, “…a bit of a hammering” over recent years. Thankfully, there a numerous independent groups stepping up to the plate – both to protect what remains and to create much-needed new urban forests.

photo credit . Albert Park, Auckland . Michael Zimmer

10-step ‘How to Grow an Urban Forest’ Guidebook

Citygreen - 10-step ‘How to Grow an Urban Forest’ Guidebook

10-step ‘How to Grow an Urban Forest’ Guidebook:

In an Australian first, a 10-step guidebook on growing urban forests in order to reduce temperatures in cities has been launched in Melbourne during an urban forest masterclass involving 200+ urban planners, arborists, and land managers. Supported by the Melbourne City Council and the Victorian Government, the 10-step “How to grow an urban forest” guide has been created to give local councils the tools they need to increase urban greenery.

Launched as part of the 202020 Vision, the guide was inspired by Melbourne’s commitment to plant 3000 trees every year to help cool the city. It includes a vast array of information including the benefits of heat mapping, how to assess your assets, and useful interviews with experienced councilors.

Arron Wood, Chair of the Melbourne Council’s Environment Portfolio, said, “…urban forests have the potential to reduce the severity of heatwaves, which have claimed hundreds of lives in other parts of the world. So these beautiful trees that you walk past in the street and think ‘aren’t they lovely’ and ‘you provide me with nice shade’, literally they could save your life one day.”

One of the key messages is the guide is that of diversity. Mr Wood said, “With diversity you get greater resilience, you’re not going to get a disease that wipes out a single species and changes the whole look of your urban forest. It’s also good for biodiversity because you’re bringing the flowering plants, the native plants and that really is about bringing good biology and good ecology back into the city.”

The guidebook is available for download at https://202020vision.com.au/media/41948/urban-forest-strategy-workbook.pdf.

Retail Landscaping, The New Experience

Citygreen - Retail Landscaping, The New Experience

Retail Landscaping, The New Experience:

When thinking about creating a retail environment that stimulates shoppers’ spending habits and experiences, flashy branding and aesthetically pleasing displays make a lot of sense, but what if there was something a little less expected, and yet so much more naturally nurturing and powerful to the human experience?

In decades before today, city dwellers expelled themselves from the urban environment, seeking out the less congested neighborhoods of the suburbs, and all shopping needs being addressed by the enclosed, glass, metal, and stone of department stores and malls.

Coinciding with this sociological shift, research has been conducted since the 1970’s investigating the need and benefit of nature as part of the daily human experience. One of the overriding pieces of evidence shows that environments featuring greenery and natural elements are, “… consistently preferred over non-green urban settings, or environments dominated by artefacts,” (Joye, et al. 2010).

In keeping with those studied benefits, landscape infrastructure is no longer as simple as planting plants to give a more affluent, manicured aesthetic, but a tool to build better urban spaces, “from the layout of streets, sidewalks, plazas, and buildings to outdoor natural features and amenities that are iconic and in tune with cultural, social, and environmental uniqueness,” says Randall Shearin of Shopping Center Business.

Given the shift in the human experience’s needs, people have begun to seek out establishments and areas that aren’t just purely for retail, but also opportunities to have stimulation on a social and personal, internal level.

Appropriately, design firms and investors have responded by renovating existing traditional mall formats to open-air venues and town centers, like the City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Places like this give specific attention to the original environment they are built around, or in. In this case, large trees and a creek create a natural traffic pattern that allows the space to feel as though it was an original part of the landscape anyways, as if the town center itself grew as part of the landscape.

These open-air venues turn people who were primarily customers visiting specific businesses into community members who took ownership of the space. This seems like this rich, green, urban oasis could only be benefitting those patrons who visit the developments, but not so.

“Having a tenant in front of the main square is like having a retailer at center court in the mall; tenants want to be along those public spaces,” says Yaromir Steiner, CEO of Steiner + Associates, a leading developer of mixed-use environments. “The square attracts people. Kids can play in the fountain; adults can go to the farmer’s market or listen to concerts. It builds traffic.”

By visiting mixed-use environments that give, “experiences and places for shoppers to enhance — and increase — their visits,” says Shearin, they offer different venues to create a similar convenience of online shopping, a hard thing to compete with, until now. Simultaneously, environments are designed where people seek an experience that enhances and enriches their daily lives, local economy is stimulated and supported, and thereby creating a natural and mutually beneficial balance between the man-made, and nature’s best offerings.

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AILA puts Focus on Green Spaces for Schools

Citygreen - AILA puts Focus on Green Spaces for Schools

AILA puts Focus on Green Spaces for Schools:

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) has teamed up with the University of Canberra (UC) and Torrens Primary School in the ACT to completely overhaul a courtyard located in the centre of the school.

Concerned about the lack of funding for outdoor environments in schools, AILA Chief Executive, Shahana McKenzie, said this is a pilot project for a national competition to be launched in September, with the aim to highlight the benefits of quality green spaces in urban areas – including schools.

Ms McKenzie said, “Children spent 20 per cent of their time outdoors when they’re at school. But unfortunately there isn’t 20 per cent of funding going from facilities’ funding to the outdoor environment.”

AILA National President, Mark Frisby, said he would like to see government funding increased for outdoor spaces. “It is one of the most effective ways to address growing community issues such as obesity and mental health, and it requires significantly less investment than constructing new buildings,” he said.

The project kicked off with a workshop involving 30 students from the school, and UC landscape architecture students. Landscape architecture student, Christopher Norris, said the students’ passion for their school was obvious during the workshop, including their insistence on using school colours.

Unfortunately, grand ideas such as chocolate fountains, water slides, and a rollercoaster did not make the cut. But many suggestions did, including a grass mound, a multi-level concert stage, a water feature for science education, and an outdoor lunch space for teachers. Torrens Primary School principal, Sue Mueller, said the new space would contribute to the learning and wellbeing of current and future generations of students.

The courtyard is expected to be completed by October 2016. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming national competition.

image credit . The Canberra Times . Graham Tidy

ArborGuy Plants the Seeds to Success for Urban Landscapes

Citygreen - ArborGuy Plants the Seeds to Success for Urban Landscapes

ArborGuy Plants the Seeds to Success for Urban Landscapes:

Trees are complicated beings. They have specific needs, and require conducive environments in order to flourish and grow. Citygreen® acknowledges this fact, and with their wide range of products, they are innovating the way trees are planted. One of these products includes the ArborGuy, a system that is hopefully replacing tree staking entirely in both urban and rural environments.

The ArborGuy is best suited for root ball trees, and eliminates damage to the root ball that can otherwise occur with typical tree staking practices. The kit includes strapped anchor systems with drive ins, heavy duty composite anchors, a webbing strap and rachet tensioner. In the event of underground utilities in the vicinity of the planting, a “deadman”guying system with 3 heavy timbers is included.

Citygreen - ArborGuy Plants the Seeds to Success for Urban Landscapes“Once installed, each one of the three Arborguy ground anchors can withstand up to 1340 kilos of upward force… If required, the system can be re­tensioned at a later date.”

Part of the strength of this system is the use of a subterranean triangular configuration, in comparison to a tree staking, which features 1­2 stakes driven into the ground, and ties which cut into the tree trunk over time. Because this system is entirely subterranean, the finished look is a healthy, secured tree growing from the earth, devoid of stakes and ties jutting up around each trunk.

“…Improper tree staking replaces a supportive trunk and root system with an artificial support that causes the tree to put its resources into growing taller but not growing wider.” The result is a smaller trunk susceptible to breakage or uprooting in storm conditions: an undesirable and avoidable expense.

With smarter planting, we can have smarter futures with less expense, and more healthy trees.

Community Stewardship of Urban Forest Futures

Citygreen - Community Stewardship of Urban Forest Futures

Community Stewardship of Urban Forest Futures:

Much focus is given to new city-scale projects to enhance and develop urban forestry, and utilize the most cutting edge designs in green infrastructure. Though the benefits reaped by the inhabitants and community members are often noted, there is a large opportunity to support what infrastructure has begun, and this opportunity starts at the individual level.

What needs to be developed just as much as the re-designing of past urban forestry projects is the sense of stewardship and personal ownership of the local forestry and environment we each inhabit.
Lindsay K Campbell, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service, recently stated in a personal blog, “How can we cultivate attachment and stewardship but also allow attachment to inform management, decision-making, and priority-setting? What would it look like to grow a forest that is rooted in these community relations all along the way?”

With this personal ownership, comes the challenge of finding ways to expand on what is presently placed into two categories: sparse individual experiences, like caring for the forestry outside an individual’s apartment, and far-reaching, but finite community volunteer events, usually lasting a day or weekend at most.

What happens after those trees or gardens are planted?

A beginning solution is the creation, participation, and effective momentum of local “greening communities”, as put by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Tree City USA is a framework created and monitored by the Arbor Day Foundation, which has created a framework for action from which communities can establish community forestry management.In order to achieve and maintain active status, these cities must be, “maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.”

The result as of 2015 is over 3,400 communities, and 135 million Americans living in these stewarded areas. With effective framework, education, and a sense of pride and ownership, successful urban landscapes are looking forward to a green, well cared for future in conjunction with the advancement in design and infrastructure provided by the governing and civic bodies.

Green Spaces not Enough for Biodiversity

Citygreen - Green Spaces not Enough for Biodiversity

As much as green spaces in urban areas are important, this may not be enough to ensure biodiversity in cities, according to a study by the University of Iowa.

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