Delivering Sustainable Urban Forests
On April 27th, 2023, an event at University College Cork (UCC) brought together experts, practitioners, policymakers, and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to discuss a critical topic: "Delivering Sustainable Urban Forests." This one-day symposium, organised by the UCC Arboretum group, aimed to shed light on the essential role of urban trees in creating vibrant, healthy, and sustainable cities and towns. The discussions held during the symposium underscored the critical importance of urban forests in promoting biodiversity, addressing climate challenges, enhancing culture, supporting human health and well-being, and contributing to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
he symposium commenced with an exploration of the multifaceted benefits offered by urban trees. From reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change to regulating water flow and enhancing mental and physical well-being, the value of urban trees in maintaining ecological equilibrium cannot be overstated. However, rapid urbanisation, infrastructural development, and other city changes have put significant pressure on green spaces and infrastructure, often leading to their degradation and fragmentation.
Throughout the day, a diverse lineup of speakers from academia, local authorities, government agencies, charities, and the industry shared their insights, experiences, and solutions to address the challenges of delivering sustainable urban forests. From nature's contribution to health and the effects of natural vs human-modified forests on well-being to street trees' role in sustainable urban forestry, the symposium covered a wide array of topics.
Practical experiences and strategies were also highlighted, including designing and planting urban trees in optimal locations, creating underground space for root growth to enable urban trees to thrive without causing damage to infrastructure, and the significance of selecting appropriate tree species to combat climate change-related challenges. The symposium also emphasised and showcased efforts to increase canopy cover in cities, manage large urban forests, and establish ‘tiny forests’ in urban areas.
The event's closing session, an open forum, allowed participants to engage in discussions ranging from planting native versus non-native species to broader themes related to sustainable urban forestry.
The symposium served as a platform for meaningful conversations, knowledge sharing, and networking among participants passionate about shaping urban environments' future. As attendees departed, the spirit of collaboration and the shared commitment to creating sustainable and liveable cities through preserving and enhancing urban forests continued to resonate.
In a world where the importance of green spaces is increasingly recognised, the "Delivering Sustainable Urban Forests" symposium at UCC stood as a testament to the potential of collective efforts to transform cities into healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable places for generations to come.
This event was supported by the School of BEES, and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) through the ITEN project. For more information about the guest speakers please see Delivering Sustainable Urban Forests Symposium lineup