Urban Forest a Priority in Charlotte, NC

Urban Forest a Priority in Charlotte, NC:

Nestled in Mecklenberg County is the charming city of Charlotte, North Carolina, and nestled between all of the new and historical architecture is a strong, ever growing urban forest.

As boasted on the City of Charlotte’s website, “Charlotte is nationally recognized for its  extensive, diverse and healthy tree canopy. For more than 30 years, Charlotte citizens and government agencies have chosen to protect and preserve trees in our community.”

The boasts, though, are backed up by leafy green facts. In 2012, the National Recreation and Park Association awarded the National Gold Medal Award, and the teams that make up The City Arborist and The Urban Forestry oversee the protection, planting, and maintenance of trees. Charlotte is logged at 46% with over 200 species of trees, and an encouraging ration of one tree for every seven residents.

It’s clear that Charlotte holds a certain amount of pride and motivation in maintaining and improving the health of their canopy. One way they bring the city dwellers into an active role is good old fashioned awards.

“The Charlotte Tree Advisory Commission, on behalf of The Mayor and City Council, annually presents Charlotte’s Crown Tree Awards in four different categories.  These awards recognize excellence in tree preservation, tree planting, and tree advisory.  To be eligible, the site must have been complete for one year.”

Further, Charlotte maintains its position in the top ranks of cities with urban forests. Recently completed in December of 2015, Charlotte has made available to the public First Ward Park. First Ward is a 4 acre park of former nestled, “between the ImaginOn library and UNC Charlotte’s uptown campus, [and] is expected to anchor a major redevelopment of the area, much of which is still surface parking owned by Levine Properties.”

Just as in so many other urban forests, the benefits of a strong urban forest bring huge returns to Charlotte’s infrastructure, and has provided this charmed city , “… with $2.76 million in benefits. In addition, Charlotte’s trees provide more than $900,000 in energy savings annually and $2.1 million in stormwater controls.”

The results in Charlotte are inarguable and compelling models for other city’s urban forestry efforts.

photo coutesy of . fortibus

DC Calling More of Their Trees Special

DC Calling More of Their Trees Special:

In 2003, a law was enacted that began a new future for the trees of the United States’ national capital. The Urban Forest Preservation act outlined specifically, “To establish an urban forest preservation program; to require a Special Tree removal permit and community notification prior to the removal or replacement of a tree with a circumference of 55 inches or more, [and] to establish a Tree Fund to be used to plant trees and defray costs associated with the implementation of this act.”

As with any other urban forestry program, the evidence of benefits in having a healthy urban forest are real and tangible. The Act created in 2003 opened a path for a stronger future for community members to be pro-active and effective in their decisions to support their urban forest’s future.

Coinciding with the birth of the Act of 2003, the non-profit organization Casey Trees was founded by Betty B. Casey, a local resident. Her intent is in this establishment is, “To restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of the Nation’s Capital.”

Now in 2015, the new Tree Canopy Protection Amendment Act of 2015 is introduced by, “Council member Charles Allen of Ward 6 and co-sponsored by Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh.” In support of the Act and its provisions, Casey Trees promoted and made available to the public a petition to sign in support of the Act passing.

The act makes several significant provisions including bringing DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration into a more proactive position to cover not just street trees, but also ones located on school and park grounds.

In order for these “special” trees to be removed, increased payments must be made to the DC “Tree Fund” unless the tree is considered unhealthy or hazardous. In addition, the original circumference of 55-inches decreases to 47-inches, and fines for removing a “special” tree have tripled.

“Now the Sierra Club of DC and some others would like the Council to embrace new criteria that would bring more trees into this “special” category,” states the Forest Hills Connection webpage.

These clearly outlined acts offer a structure and system that almost guarantee the responsible handling for DC’s forestry indefinitely. In DC, it’s not so bad to be a tree.


Thousands of street trees to be planted in Greater Geelong to cool sizzled suburbs

Thousands of street trees to be planted in Greater Geelong to cool sizzled suburbs:

Under a new council plan, Greater Geelong is set to plant thousands of street trees to grow the region’s urban forest and cool its hottest suburbs. These include Corio, Norlane, and Whittington, where new trees are set to mitigate summer heatwaves and provide environmental benefits.

Councillors backed the plan to turn Geelong into a “cool green city for the future” at a recent public meeting. The Urban Forest Strategy shows the city’s budget allows it to plant 1050 advanced street trees a year, but it chops down almost that many (1000) due to old age, disease, and new developments. The net gain of 50 trees is below the stated aim of 400 additional trees per year, so the strategy aims to increase plantings by 500 a year at an estimated cost of $200,000.

Councillors were told suburbs of social disadvantage, such as Corio, Norlane, and Whittington, would benefit from plantings because they had little tree coverage and were among the areas that suffered most on Geelong’s hottest days.

Austin Ward Councillor, Jock Irvine, said Whittington residents had responded well to the trees planted in their neighbourhood, many volunteering to maintain them. “We need to start in the more barren areas,” Councillor Irvine said. “It’s hard to put a value on beautifying a neighbourhood and a streetscape, but it is important. In some cases people might feel like they don’t get a lot in life, so they respond very well when the council comes and gives them another reason to take pride in where they live. Obviously, there’s a cost to council but the problem is that we didn’t plant enough trees in the first place. The leafy streets of Newtown and Herne Hill are only the way they are now because the effort was made a long time ago and now those trees are established.”

The city used satellite thermal imagery to show areas of Geelong that heat up more quickly and then retain that heat into the night. The northern industrial zone was singled out as a hotspot, and therefore a priority for planting. The report also highlighted a variety of benefits trees would provide, including cooling neighbourhoods, improving air quality, saving energy, and leveraging stormwater.

San Francisco Claims Their Trees

San Francisco Claims Their Trees:

Across the United States, cities and regions all contend with a host of different environmental elements and human needs. Each city has its own approach to its urban forestry and community involvement, and San Francisco is no different.

Founded about five years ago, an initiative called The Urban Forest Map was created for the residents within San Francisco to take an active part in tallying up and taking inventory of the trees around them.

Their mission statement says, “The Urban Forest Map is a collaboration of government, nonprofits, businesses and you to map every tree in San Francisco…The information we gather will help urban foresters and city planners to better manage trees in specific areas, track and combat tree pests and diseases, and plan future tree plantings. Climatologists can use it to better understand the effects of urban forests on climates, and students and citizen scientists can use it to learn about the role trees play in the urban ecosystem.”

Partnering with this forum is the San Francisco Department of Public Works. The department holds meeting open to the public nine months out of the year, and provide online records of all concerns discussed.

With this sort of accountability and freedom to offer input, the Urban Forest Map was created to help, “provide a one-stop repository for tree data, welcoming information from any agency or group and enabling and celebrating citizen participation.”

Hand in hand with the Urban Forest Map initiative are the Friends of the Urban Forest, an organization founded almost four decades ago as a response to cut fundings for the urban forest. Since then FUF has, “developed a dedicated Tree Care program led by an ISA-certified arborist….[and]  launched its Youth Tree Care program (now called Green Teens), one of the nation’s few paid urban forestry vocational skills training programs.”

As we strive to take a more active approach in our urban forests, knowledge is power, and technologies are constantly created, updated and improved to tell us more about the trees we integrate into our cities’ landscapes. An essential part of the success of these initiatives is the support and participation of the local inhabitants. It’s time to grow our environments.

Entire forest to be built in Singapore high-rise apartment atrium

Entire forest to be built in Singapore high-rise apartment atrium:

Green Heart, in Singapore’s Marina One, is set to be a green space like never before. Including a multi-level public garden, calming waterfalls, reflecting pools, and a dense web of lush trees, this massive 376,000-square-foot project will be a one-of-a-kind green urban space when it’s officially launched in 2016.

The brainchild of German studio Ingenhoven Architects and Singapore A61, construction of Marina One began in 2012. The work has since been handed over to landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter, which is now converting the space into Singapore’s largest green urban sanctuary – with four high-rise apartments already surrounding the space.

Pathways and ponds will blend seamlessly into the surrounding business district as a way to complement the existing green spaces of Gardens by the Bay, a 101-hectare park of reclaimed land that sits beside Singapore’s Marina Reservoir.

Curving balconies will resemble traditional Asian rice terraces, with additional plant beds scaling the facade, culminating in lofty “cloud forests” above.

A triumph in green urban design, Green Heart will set the standard on a scale never seen before. “The planting is designed to create inspiring and multifunctional urban spaces to be enjoyed by all in Singapore,” Gustafson Porter told De Zeen magazine.

Image courtesy of M+S Pte Ltd.

202020 Vision Launches National Plan to Reach its Goal

202020 Vision Launches National Plan to Reach its Goal:

The 202020 Vision, an initiative of the Nursery & Garden Industry of Australia (NGIA), was named after its mission: “To create 20% more green space in our urban areas by 2020.”

Launched in 2013, the initiative has worked tirelessly to collate the knowledge of, “500 greening experts from across business, government, academia and the community sector consulted during the initiative’s Growing The Seeds tour into a document that showcases proven, scalable and replicable solutions to greening the urban landscape.” This document was officially launched last month as The 202020 Plan.

Dr Anthony Kachenko, Research and Development Team Leader and Portfolio Manager at Horticulture Innovation Australia said, “The 202020 Plan shows if you get industry and government leaders together to share their collective wisdom they can create simple, impactful pathways to reversing the urban greening crisis – it truly is collaborative impact at its best. Through the plan we now have the start of a compendium of urban greening strategies that is a must-read for every business, level of government and community group in Australia that is playing a role to see our cities become healthy, productive, thriving places that can mitigate the effects of climate change.”

The City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy is one of the initiative’s most successful projects, and will see the council increase canopy cover from 22 per cent to 40 per cent by 2040. Next on the agenda is a “White Label Urban Forest Strategy” for other local governments, providing a template enabling them to replicate The City of Melbourne’s success.

Collectively, governments, business, and planners are beginning to understand the need to green urban environments. The 202020 Vision, “Australia’s biggest network of green space experts, creators and supporters…is uniquely placed to pioneer a more efficient approach.”

The 202020 Plan is available for download here.

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

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

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