European Young Urban Forester 2016 comes from Germany!

Dr. Mohammad Asrafur Rahman, currently working as a Humboldt post-doctoral Research Fellow at Technical University of Munich, applied and won a competition for European Young Urban Forester of the Year 2016. He will be awarded with commendation, cash award and free subscription for one year to Urban Forestry Urban Greening!

Awarding committee, led by Clive Davies, recognized excellence of Dr. Mohammad A. Rahman in urban forestry practice and urban forestry research. His PhD thesis entitled “Effects of Species and Rooting Conditions on the Growth and Cooling Performance of Urban Trees” was awarded the “Outstanding PhD Award” with seven research articles published in journals of academic repute. His academic expertise and research experience made him a suitable candidate for the award 2016 and we hope it will further encourage his devotion in the field of Urban Forestry.

Picture of experiment 3 Rahman
Field experiment of  Dr. Mohammad A.Rahman

Your favourite urban forest? Where is it, why is it special?

My favourite urban forest is the “Englischer Garten” situated within the centre of the bustling city of Munich, Germany. With an area of 3.7 km2, the Englischer Garten is one of the Europe’s largest urban public parks stretching from the city centre to the northeastern city limits. Due to its location and offerings of numerous services it attracts both locals and tourists equally.  Cyclists and hikers can enjoy a 78-kilometer-long network of green paths surrounded by dark stands of mature oak and maple before emerging to a beautiful vista of the city offered by the Monopteros along with the hill. If not, they will surely find Kleinhesseloher See, a lovely lake at the centre of the park or a beer garden right by the Chinese Tower. This 370 hectare urban forest is not only serving the society as an natural recreational area but also as the green lung for over a million people living in the Munich’s agglomeration.

Which tree represents your personality and why?

I think maple tree represents me better. One of the dominant urban tree species which can adapts to situations with tolerance to hard conditions. With full of imaginations and originality I can see the appeal of living in a city. Self-confident; however, often shy, always keen to learn new experiences and deep dense extended canopy to shade the people underneath. With its magical autumn color it provides the comfort and support to people in their personal journey.

In your country of current residence – are urban forests more important than »regular, non-urban« forests?

In Germany, people have started to realize the importance of urban forests more than ever. Since most of the people now live in compacted cities, the urban forests or overall ecosystems already became an absolute necessity to provide environmental, economic and social benefits to them. With ongoing climate change and urbanization the integrated concept of urban greenery has been recognized to improve the quality of urban life and environment.  Most of the residents now want to have denser urban tree canopy to get the proven benefits of trees in a city.

The funniest moment that you experienced in your job?

In June 2015 we were working with Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) devices within a public square in Munich. TLS devices contain two big boxes attached with a computer and obviously with a scanning device, the whole system looks like a movie shooting device especially with other sensing devices attached with the trees. Couple of pedestrians stood there over hours and observed carefully what scene we were shooting :)! After that they approached us and asked whether they are in the film or not. When we explained them we are rather measuring the tree crowns their face became so faint that I can never forget.

What is your opinion on EFUF 2016 organization, its visibility and success?

I think EFUF is a unique platform for urban forestry practitioners; academicians as well as policy makers to stand together and exchange views. On the onset of gradual recognition of Urban Forestry as a profession this Forum can play a vital role in harmonizing cross-boundary co-operation in terms of what we already know, what we don’t know and what need to be done in future. In this regard this Forum has made significant progress within last few years and the annual meetings are getting increasingly successful. However, I still believe this is the beginning and we need to make the forum even more visible using as many channels as possible.

More advertisement on social media, printed media as well as more announcements in related conferences would certainly help to make the platform even more inclusive.

Additionally, web hosting of conference talks, live twitting and introduction of more award winning opportunities to join the conference free of cost for few excellent papers might make the upcoming events even more attractive to a range of participants.

Picture of experiment 1 Rahman
Field experiment of Dr. Mohammad A. Rahman

Dr. Mohammad Rahman was interviewed by Špela Planinšek, Slovenian Forestry Institute. Since he could not attend EFUF meeting in Slovenia, we made an interview with him via mail.

Competition for European Young Urban Forester of the Year is supported by MD2 Consultants Ltd.

Back to nature! Even if we live in the city

There is a dispute in biology and other sciences: nurture vs. nature. Which one is more important in our lives? Are we determined by our genes? Or is it our upbringing that forms us the most? 

# Roots

Myself, I grew up in the countryside, in a village of 50 people. Basically, us and the brown bears, we lived in the same neighborhood.

In these days, I live in the city of Ljubljana, in an apartment block of 50 people. And I get to ask myself the same questions as my parents did. How to raise kids in this environment?  

 # Observe

As the little ones are brought into this world, we hold them close. We take care of their needs, meanwhile we have to take care of our own needs. It helps to take a walk, to clear our heads, to bring some fresh air into our thoughts and body.

Forest Kindergarten in Ljubljana?   © Urša Plešnar

# Explore

When they leave our arms, they are ready to explore. They want to do everything by themselves. To touch, to smell, to feel. To explore on their own and at the same time, they want to know we are close.

For a small child, there is no schedule. Only this moment in time. For them, it is only here and now.

Urban Forest Rožnik, Ljubljana.    © Urša Plešnar

# Create

In a few years, they enter into the pearls and perils of formal education – school. Life there is structured, often competitive (knowledge) and under peer presure (looks, clothes). But let’s not forget: under all this demands, there is a kid – that just wants to BE.

A kid that just wants to be appreciated for being him or her. To feel safe, to be loved and to learn. And kids do love to learn!

Sometimes we hear that kids nowadays don’t know how to make a fire, how to cook their own meal and how to make it through a week without their iPhone.

A week without iPhone? Yes, we can!  © Manca Dostal

But I have seen those kids. I know them. And I know where you can find them. In the woods. With their scout friends.

Where each kid can contribute with what he or she knows best. Either cooking, crafting a fork from a stick or encouraging and comforting a friend.

Scout festival, Ljubljana    © Manca Dostal

And they grow up into responsible adults. Responsible to themselves, others and nature. When these kids grow up, they give back to the environment.

And when we give back to our environment – we give back to ourselves.

Author of blog post for #EFUF2016 blog competition is Laura Žižek Kulovec, forestry engineer, researcher, who likes to walk in and learn about urban forests.


Do urban and peri-urban forests fulfill their hydrological function?

Last year, Janez Kermavnar finished his Master’s degree thesis at the Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana. The topic of his thesis is the hydrology of selected urban and peri-urban forests in the City of Ljubljana. He wants to expose ecological benefits of forests for water, which are often taken for granted.

Urban and peri-urban forests influence on drinking water quality and quantity. With the rainfall interception, they mitigate many negative consequences of extreme weather phenomena (stormwater runoff, soil erosion, flooding etc.).

A study network of green infrastructure in and around Ljubljana provided an array of different ecosystem services. Slovenian capital has vital urban forests. Moreover, woodlands are abundant even on the city`s periphery, where peri-urban forests serve their specific aims. They are often unduly neglected, although they protect human settlements against floods and act as a buffer zone between river and neighboring agricultural land.

Healthy drinking water provisioning is one of the key factors when considering well-being of urban society. Worldwide, water quality in urbanized areas is now days often questionable. Fast urbanization and its negative effects (air, soil and water resources pollution) are onerous for whole natural environment. On the contrary, forests act as protective and selective layer between atmosphere and ground. Without that layer, there is no natural cleaning plant and rainwater (enriched with pollutants) just run off from impervious surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete, into nearest watercourses. With deep  root systems and rainfall interception in canopies, forests also prevent erosion.

Urban forests give us many things on a regular basis. What can we do in return?

Solid information on the role of urban forests in fulfilling the ecosystem services, related to water, is still limited. In order to better understand rainfall interception, we did an interesting research study. So the answer is: explore and keep the public informed about new discoveries.

Slovenian Forestry Institute (Department of Forest Ecology) measured rainfall interception in three different natural urban and peri-urban forest stands: mixed urban forest in Landscape park Rožnik, Tivoli and Šišenski hrib and in two peri-urban forests along Sava river: riparian pine forest and floodplain hardwood forest.

SFI monitoring plot_Kermavnar
Monitoring plot for measuring rainfall interception in mixed urban forest positioned just beside Slovenian Forestry Institute in Ljubljana.

Results showed that:

  • rainfall interception mainly depends on (horizontal and vertical) forest stand structure and its tree species composition;
  • mixed urban forest interception was the highest, due to its dense canopy cover and trees with greater dimensions (height, diameter);
  • in riparian pine forest and floodplain hardwood forest, shrub and understory vegetation influenced rainfall interception;
  • meteorological conditions, like rainfall intensity, can play an important role in estimating rainfall interception.

Some of these findings might be useful for sustainable forest (close-to-nature) management and urban planning. Bottom line, silvicultural plans and measures have to promote multiple forest functions (recreational activities, biodiversity, …) at the same time. Urban and peri-urban forests protect available renewable water resources. Majority of them is located in the forests or in the forest edge. Despite the fact that forest ecosystems are inevitably essential, management practice are not always in favour of providing those benefits.

This blog post is authored by Janez Kermavnar and is a part of the #EFUF2016 blog competition.