Trees as infrastructure: Part one

This is one of two related articles on “Trees as infrastructure: An open source model to support municipalities in transitioning toward resilient urban forest management practices.” In this first blog, we examine why municipalities are struggling to reach tree-planting targets. In the second blog, we will develop a proposition for supporting cities to transition towards green infrastructures.

 

1. Social and ecosystem benefits associated with urban trees are widely supported by scientific research

 

We are seeing a growing acknowledgement of the importance of trees to combat (and mitigate the impacts of) the climate crisis—including within our cities. However, a series of structural problems inherent in our urban forestry management processes are working against the more and more ambitious tree-planting targets that cities are announcing.

 

A historical transition for urban tree systems: Then and now

 

2. Twentieth century treatment of street trees: (left) early proposal for the organisation of the New York Bureau of City Forestry; (right) celebrating a tree surgeon’s work in Queens

 

 

3. Twentieth century models of urban forest management persist in the twenty-first century: A survey map and photograph marking felled trees in the Mitte district, Berlin

 

 

4. The Greener Grangetown green infrastructure project in Cardiff developed an innovative scheme for rainwater management

 

Why municipalities are struggling to increase urban forest growth

 

 

5. Two approaches to tree felling timescales: A. conventional forest management timescale where the optimal age to fell and replant trees is planned to optimise timber volume production; B. optimal timescale where the optimal age to fell and replant trees is planned to maximise social and ecosystem tree benefits

 

 

6. Tree benefits time chart for a tree in mainstream urban forestry practices

 

7. Tree benefits time chart for a tree planted and maintained in conditions to thrive

 

 

8. Study showing sustainable metrics before and after completion of the Greener Grangetown green infrastructure project in Cardiff

 

 

 

9. Different methodologies exist for valuing trees as assets: (1) focused on their visual relevance, (2) their market value, (3) their amenity value, and (4) the total value associated with ecosystem services

 

 

 

10. Suzanne Simard has proven that trees exchange nutrients, compete and communicate via a network of underground fungi

 

 

The need for a boring revoltion, and relation shift

 

What next?

 

11. How do we value our urban forests? Exhibition, Somerset House, 2019

 

 

 

This article first appeared on Dark Matter’s Medium account.

 
Location
Related Focus Area
Urban Transitions
Related Goal
Goal 2: Nurture nature-based resilience for cities
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