Winter Park, Florida Goes Out on a Limb

Winter Park, Florida Goes Out on a Limb:

As with every July, another essential collection of 50-50 matching grants have been issued by the Director of the Florida Forest Service, and the recipients are already endeavoring on essential and compelling projects and initiatives… “to develop or enhance their urban and community forestry programs.”

The City of Winter Park’s Urban Forestry Division was awarded a $20,000 grant, with the city matching those funds.

These essential funds mark the beginning of the third phase of a project to phase out dead or sickly trees with new ones. It is expected that the project’s completion in the Orange County suburb will span across several years.

“The grant was presented to Winter Park for its partial rights of way tree inventory, and this partial inventory will assist the city in managing rights of way maintenance cycles,” as stated in a recent article in the Orlando Centennial.

The Urban Forestry Management Plan confirms, “In 2005, the city hired ArborPro, Inc., a full service urban forestry and software consulting company to perform an inventory of right of way (ROW) trees.” This proactive decision was in part to a devastating hurricane season in 2004, and the canopy is still recovering ten years later. In 2012, a risk assessment study was performed by ArborPro, Inc. on several hundred of those trees.

Fortunately, Winter Park’s Urban Forestry Division seems to be up to the task, and make available for public knowledge their plans and resources on their main webpage. Resources include a robust list of trees ideal for not only creating diversity in the urban canopy, but also the ideal placement of the tree species, such as along streets and sidewalks.

“The city’s urban forest consists of over 75,000 trees on private and public property and there are over 25,000 trees in city rights of way…” and an estimated third of that population will require removal in the next several years. Moving forward, an emphasis will be put on creating more diversity in the tree species, as the tree populace is imbalanced by a majority of mature trees on a decline, making them more susceptible to hurricane damage, disease, and drought.

Though each local community and environment is unique, Winter Park has found the steps towards an attentive, responsible, successful program, and deciding to do so creates a successful future that any urban forest could enjoy.

photo credit . Winter Park, FL – Ebyabe

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

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.


Melbourne’s CBD Trees Receive Thousands of Love Letters

Melbourne’s CBD Trees Receive Thousands of Love Letters:

They say happiness is receiving an unexpected love letter. Such is the case for Melbourne’s CBD trees, who recently became the unexpected recipients of thousands of love letters from residents in Melbourne and around the globe.

As part of the Urban Forest Strategy, an initiative to combat the decline of Melbourne’s urban forest, the city assigned all of Melbourne’s 77,000 trees individual email addresses. The idea was that residents would use these emails to report trees that had been vandalized, appeared to be suffering disease, or posed a safety hazard to the community.

However, residents quickly started using the email addresses for another purpose – writing love letters to their favourite trees. The Chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Counciller Arron Wood, said the response was an unexpected but welcome surprise, “It is unbelievable, we have now received over 3000 emails from all around the world — there have been people from Russia, Germany, Hungary, Singapore, Britain and Hong Kong all confessing their love for trees in Melbourne.”

Here’s a sample of the love letters received:

Weeping Myrtle, Tree ID 1494392
Hello Weeping Myrtle, I’m sitting inside near you and I noticed on the urban tree map you don’t have many friends nearby. I think that’s sad so I want you to know I’m thinking of you. I also want to thank you for providing oxygen for us to breath in the hustle and bustle of the city. Best Regards, N.

Golden Elm, Tree ID 1028612
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.

Variegated Elm, Tree ID 1033102
Dear Elm, I was delighted to find you alive and flourishing, because a lot of your family used to live in the UK, but they all caught a terrible infection and died. Do be very careful, and if you notice any unfamiliar insects e-mail an arboriculturist at once. I miss your characteristic silhouettes and beautifully shaped branches — used to be one of the glories of the English landscape — more than I can say. Melbourne must be a beautiful city.
Sincere good wishes,

Golden Elm, Tree ID 1037148
Dear 1037148,
You deserve to be known by more than a number. I love you.
Always and forever.

Mr Woods said while the emails are encouraged, the team can only reply to authentic requests. “The whole point of the project was it would be no cost to council, so we have to ensure people aren’t wasting tax payers’ money to reply to all the love letters. With that said, it’s great that this has been effective in spreading a very important message.”

You can email your favourite tree at

Forests Key to Solving the Global Hunger Crisis

Forests Key to Solving the Global Hunger Crisis

Dr. Bhaskar Vira is Chair of the Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security, convened by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations. In a recent article, Dr Vira wrote, “About one in nine people globally still suffer from hunger, with the majority living in Africa and Asia. The world’s forests have great potential to improve their nutrition and ensure their livelihoods. In fact, forests could be essential to global food security, particularly when considering the importance of diverse, nutritionally-balanced diets.”

Whilst it’s well accepted that forests are key to sustaining biodiversity and alleviating the impact of climate change, Dr Vira believes, “their contribution to alleviating hunger and improving nutrition has been somewhat neglected.” A recent study conducted by the Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security, which Dr Vira chaired, outlines how forests can complement agricultural production and give an economic boost to some of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

According to the study, there are four ways forests can benefit food security:

    1. Trees are rich in vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients, and are essential to a diverse diet
    2. Wild meat, fish, and insects are also important forest food sources. Particularly in South-East Asia, many forests and agroforests (tree-based farms) are managed specifically to enhance edible insect supply
    3. Forests are essential for firewood and charcoal, facilitating cooking and heating
    4. Trees offer a multitude of ecological services – for example, pollinators which are essential for crop production

So, what more can be done to leverage forests for food production? Dr Vira writes, “Novel initiatives are attempting to develop new tree commodities to supply the poor with sustainable incomes. For example, poor producers in Tanzania are engaged in a global effort to produce the seeds of the Allanblackia crop, which yield an edible oil. A private–public partnership known as Novella Africa is developing a sustainable Allanblackia oil business that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually for local farmers.”

For more information, read Dr Vira’s article in full.

photo credit: Erik HersmanCC BY

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.

Trees save 850 lives a year in America

A first national study by the United States Forest Service has revealed that trees are saving more than 850 human lives each year and preventing 670,000 instances of acute respiratory symptoms.


Toronto Urban Forest Worth $7B

The trees in the City of Toronto’s urban forest are worth an estimated $7 billion, roughly $700 per tree, according to a recent study by TD Economics.

The report said the city’s urban forest provides residents with over $80 million worth of environmental benefits and cost savings each year. For the average single family household, that’s $125 annual savings.

As Citygreen® previously posted, urban forests do so much more than just beautify the area. Green space provides health, social and psychological benefits to its residents.

Using the City of Toronto’s urban forest as an example, TD Economics demonstrated how “an investment in urban forests is an investment in the overall economic and environmental well-being of urban society”. In the most populous city in Canada, there are 10 million trees of at least 116 different species.

“From a bird’s-eye view, these trees appear as a lush green canopy that covers nearly 30 percent (190 km2) of the City of Toronto. The density of Toronto’s urban forest is on average 16,000 trees per square kilometre or about four trees per person in the city. The majority of Toronto’s urban forest is located in its ravines and river valleys, such as the Don Valley, Highland Creek and Rouge River watersheds, which have been largely undisturbed by the city’s expansion.”

In recent years, there’s been an increase in recognition of the environmental and economic benefits of urban forests. Because of this, Toronto’s urban forest is “viewed as an investment in the economic and environmental wellbeing of the city”.

The report said that each year, Toronto’s urban forest intercepts around 25 million cubic metres of wet-weather flow. Urban forests intercept falling precipitation in their canopy thereby increasing the amount of water absorbed into the ground and reducing soil erosion. “The annual cost savings this provides through reducing burdens on processing infrastructure and mitigating damage is valued at over $50 million.”

As for air pollution, Toronto’s urban forest removes around one-quarter of the annual emissions produced by industry within the city. That’s about 19,000 metric tons of air pollution removed from the atmosphere each year. “The amount of particulate matter removed by Toronto’s urban forest each year is equivalent to the amount released by over one million automobiles or 100,000 single family homes.”

The report estimated that the amount of air pollution abated by the city’s urban forest generates an annual savings of $19 million – just under $2 per tree.

Trees can also reduce the energy consumption of buildings by providing shade, evaporative cooling and blocking winter winds. The annual net cooling effect of a young healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Each year, Toronto’s urban forest generates $6.5 million in energy savings for businesses and households.

“Reduced energy consumption also avoids 17,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from emissions intensive energy sources each year, providing an annual savings of $400,000 to $600,000.”

The forests also sequesters over 46,000 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 31,000 automobiles or 16,000 single family homes. Properties in Toronto near green spaces have also increased in value.

“Rental rates of commercial office properties are about seven percent higher on sites having a high quality landscape that includes trees.”

“Maintaining our urban forests makes sense, as every dollar spent on maintenance returns $1.35 – $3.20 worth of benefits to residents of the City of Toronto. The cost savings produced by our urban forests make it clear that keeping the green on our streets, keeps the green in our wallets.”

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