Back in Celje After 10 Years – EFUF 2016 Day Two Recap

After a decade EFUF returned to the city of Celje for a brief visit! Find out what we’ve been up to on the second conference day in our latest blog post.

Attendees of the EFUF 2016 were warmly welcomed in Celje, “the city of counts and princesses”, by the mayor Bojan Šrot. He has expressed his honour and pride in that, since first hosting EFUF in 2005, Celje has become a role model for urban forestry in Slovenia. He has been aware of the potential that developing the brand “Urban forest of Celje (Mestni gozd Celje)” can offer the city and its residents and has been strongly supportive of the efforts of Slovenia Forest Service towards establishing it. Damjan Oražem, director of Slovenia Forest Service, continued that in their unceasing endeavors they have gathered years of valuable experience that can now be passed on to other Slovenian cities.

Thursday, June 2, 2016: Conference Day 2
EFUF 2016 in Celje (Photos: Urban Ušeničnik)

The second day of EFUF 2016 was characterized by lectures and discussions on the potential and ability of urban forests and green infrastructure in making cities and their parts more attractive and visible. This common thread was established at the very beginning by keynote speakers Robert Hostnik and Alan Simson. They expressed that branding urban forests is a long process involving a lot of cooperation, a risk that should be taken, as the rewards are bountiful and worth every effort. Their lectures were followed by many constructive presentations, offering a lot of applicable solutions and practical tools (such as lighting and different assessment tools) for making cities and their forests more visible and visited, which can highlight the many services they provide and attract further investments.

It is worth remembering that “cities are like magnets – they can attract or repel”. Magnetic cities look and feel better, attract people and investments. And urban forestry has much to contribute to making our cities more ‘magnetic’, as it has the knowledge to make the urban environment a quality green environment. To achieve anything worthwhile communication and networking are essential – using any means possible to connect with authorities, stakeholders and people, and forming networks, partnerships and events to share knowledge, information and experience.

After the indoor part of the Forum’s second day we went to stretch our legs a bit and paid a visit to the Urban forest of Celje and its lovely tree house – the trip was full of surprises, delicacies, good mood and… vinegar free 🙂 We shall remember our visit to Celje as a very instructive (at times even challenging) experience and fun all the same – a real treat for all of our senses!

Authors: Anita Mašek, Špela Planinšek and Saša Vochl; Slovenian Forestry Institute

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How Important are Forest Genetics for Urban Forests? – A Report from the LIFEGENMON Parallel Session

The LIFE LIFEGENMON is an European project for the development of a forest genetic monitoring system. Selected monitoring sites for European beech and Silver fir are located in Germany, Greece and Slovenia. The project staff presented their relevant practical experiences and findings to participants of 19th European Forum on Urban Forestry in a parallel session at the Ljubljana Castle on June 1st 2016.

The first speaker was the project coordinator, Prof. Dr. Hojka Kraigher from the Slovenian Forestry Institute. She opened the session of EFUF 2016 with a brief theoretical explanation of forest genetics and concluded the presentation of the LIFEGENMON project. She explained that genetic diversity level is the basis for all higher levels of biodiversity (species, ecosystem) and that forest genetic resources are threatened by several factors, the most important of which is climate change. She also highlighted the work of the European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN).

Prof. Dr. Hojka Kraigher: “Genetic diversity is the basic level of all biodiversity (species, ecosystem).”

The second presentation was more specific – Domen Finžgar (Slovenian Forestry Institute) gave a very interesting lecture about the use of UAV (drones) in forestry. He is a part of the multidisciplinary team that developed the prototype of LUCANUS, a remotely controlled drone for collecting samples in tree canopies and stated that: “Drone sampling is not science-fiction, but possible fiction. It is an unique, cost-effective, precise and safe tool.” This contribution will certainly aid to remote data sensing techniques.

Dr. Marjana Westergren discussed the importance of forest genetics for (peri)-urban woodlands and emphasized that if we want urban forest to thrive and be resilient, we have to use our knowledge of forest genetics. That means that we need to ensure sufficient gene flow in urban forests by collecting diverse seed for sowing and planting. Genetic monitoring might be especially important in (peri)-urban forests as an early warning system of changes that are about to happen at the ecosystem level.

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Dr. Marjana Westergren: “If we want urban forest to thrive and be resilient, we have to use our knowledge of forest genetics!”

To close the session, Dr. Evangelia Avramidou from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) presented how trees, growing in polluted metropolitan areas of Thessaloniki, showed different phenotypic response to urban environment stresses. She stated that forest genetic monitoring is crucial for future forest ecosystem protection and is invaluable tool for sustainable forest management.

To a casual observer, the LIFEGENMON project might not have much in common with urban forestry. But after a closer look, the existing knowledge and research in the field of forest genetics can really help us understand how trees, exposed to an array of abiotic and biotic stresses in (fragmented) forest ecosystems in urbanized areas, can adapt, be more resilient and survive in the future.

Authors: Janez Kermavnar, Boris Rantaša

Urban Children Need (Urban) Forests

This time we present a very special blog – a child’s perspective on urban forests! Find out what 5-year old Jan has to say about urban forests in this blog written down by Natalija Györek, initiator of the Slovenian Network of Forest Kindergartens and Schools.

I hope this contribution will not surprise you. It is not a scientific blog about urban forests, but it is true to life. It is about (urban) children – their journey into the world, their development, learning, and their view of the world around them. An urban forest should be a place they experience positively, because it is generous, encouraging, infinitely surprising and pleasing to the senses. It should be a world that invokes the memory of forests and nature, all the way from childhood to adulthood.

My name is Jan. I’m five years old. I live with my mum, dad and my younger brother in a big city called Ljubljana. Every day my mum and dad take me to a nearby kindergarten, where I play with my friends, go for many walks and have a good time. In kindergarten I like playing outside the most. I’m also very happy when teachers Marjeta and Tanja take us for a walk. I like climbing over fences, up the slide and climbing the trees, which are my favourite. But my teachers say we mustn’t climb the trees growing in playgrounds and in the city, because we could break the branches and hurt them. We’re also not allowed to tear leaves off trees, even though I sometimes want to put one in my pocket and show it to my mum. That’s probably why they’re closed in iron boxes, from which I can’t even pick the pebbles I love so much. Marjeta and Tanja also explained to us that these trees decorate our city and clean our air. But I don’t quite understand how trees can clean our air.

One day Marjeta and Tanja told us we were going for a walk to a nearby forest. That’s where the “real trees” grow, unlike the ones that are put in boxes. We took a bus to Rožnik Hill on the other side of the city. There’s a big urban forest there and children can get lost in it, but Marjeta and Tanja let us play there. Oh my, the things we did! We could climb over slippery stumps – I fell a few times, but I didn’t cry. With my friends, Tomaž and Peter, we drilled holes into the ground and hid behind bushes. You can hide so well in the forest that no one can find you. We found three snails and two spiders, which is as many as the fingers on one hand, and we just couldn’t stop looking at them. I might have been a little afraid of them, but I won’t tell that to anyone but my mum. We also built the best house out of forest sticks. Why do we find so many sticks in the forest, but there aren’t any in the city? Maybe adults pick them up at night.

I was happy to finally see real trees – the kind you can climb and no one gets angry. Marjeta and Tanja too came back from the forest in a good mood. That day we ate all the macaroni and quickly fell asleep.

When we came to the kindergarten the next day Marjeta and Tanja explained to us that from then on we would be visiting the forest on Rožnik Hill once a week and that we would become a forest kindergarten and join other kindergartens in the Network of Forest Kindergartens and Schools of Slovenia. I like that a lot. I like going to the forest because there we can get ourselves dirty and no one gets angry. I can’t wait for next week when we go to the forest again!

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This blog was written down by Natalija Györek, founder of the Institute for Forest Pedagogics, on behalf of Jan and all the children.

 

 

Urban Forests: Natural Air Conditioners

What are urban heat islands and how do urban trees perform air conditioning services? Find out more in this blog post by Ana Simčič, a forestry engineer from Slovenia.

What do you prefer in a summer afternoon – a walk in a crowded city center or a walk in a forest? I’m sure everyone gets relieved when after a hot walk a tree shadow appears in front of them, waiting to cool them down and let them breathe a bit fresher summer breeze. Dense canopies certainly provide a much needed relief in hot summer hours.

Every city that is surrounded by forests or comprises forested fragments can be grateful for the effects they bring, especially in the summer time. Forests mitigate and moderate heat by absorbing less heat than neighborhood concrete areas and buildings. Trees lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and through evaporation of water from the soil and leaves.

The extra heating load that comes with replacing natural vegetation with buildings, streets and sidewalks, has been recognized many decades ago. Cities are often warmer than surrounding rural areas – a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island effect”. It is caused by the absorption and storage of the sun’s thermal energy in urban infrastructure (steel, concrete or asphalt). A heat island forms over an urban area and is like a large bubble with higher temperatures than the rural surroundings. The phenomenon is common in large metropolitan cities, but it’s also noticeable in smaller cities like Ljubljana. The temperature differences between forested areas and urban environments are most pronounced during heat waves. When temperatures in urban concrete areas are near dangerous to impair human health, neighborhood green areas provide conditions that are more human friendly.

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Urban heat island effect, caused by solar energy.

Recreation in summertime is much more healthier in forested areas, where air is less polluted. A dense canopy of healthy trees can reduce the effects of air pollution associated with increasing urban temperatures. Air pollution is a serious public health threat linked to asthma, migraines, respiratory and heart diseases and most of them get especially pronounced during summer heat waves.

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A picnic in the shadow of the trees.

Trees also save energy by shading our homes and paved surfaces. Mature trees can significantly reduce summer air conditioning use by shading the sides of our homes that are exposed to overheating. In autumn, deciduous trees lose their leaves and allow us to solar heat our homes and reduce winter energy use.

Heat tires everyone – people, animals and also plants – that’s why a walk in the forest is always a good decision. In the forest, the air is more humid, temperatures are lower and the canopies protect us from harmful UV rays and sunburns. If we don’t forget a bottle of cool water, there is a pleasant walk in front of us despite the high temperatures outside of the woods.

This blog post is authored by Ana Simčič and is part of the #EFUF2016 blog competition.

Featured photos by WeatherQuestions and FHWA.

Green Divides in Cities Are Also Health Divides

What is the cost of losing everyday contact with natural spaces in favour of more urban development? Find out more in this blog by the #EFUF2016 invited blogger, Tara Zupančič, MPH.

I was twelve years old when I first visited Slovenia. I spent my summer on the mountain where my father grew up. Among 300 acres of trees, I would love to watch the mist lift from the valley floor into the ether. My soul felt alive there, and like many people, I have grown to depend on nature to hoist my spirit, provide refuge from the heat, and restore my sense of home on this planet. So when I tell people that I study the relationship between nature and health, I’m often met with an incredulous look. Isn’t it well established that nature provides the very foundation of human health? My head bobs yes, as I explain myself.

The push for research on the health benefits of nature is related to our increasingly urban existence. Competing needs for roads, houses, and industry can easily overtake greener pastures. Nature is typically viewed as something beyond urban borders and not part of our daily city life. As cities expand their borders to house the majority of the world’s population, we need to ask, what is the cost of losing everyday contact with natural spaces in favour of more urban development? In the face of competing land use needs, is a stand of trees that important?

Despite advances in health care, our lifelong health is largely determined by our social and economic position and the settings where we live, work, and play. A strong and growing body of evidence shows that everyday contact with urban nature is critical to our well-being and is significantly associated with healthier births, as well as reduced mortality, obesity, chronic disease, depression and anxiety. Access to nature is especially important for children and is significantly associated with increased play, physical activity, and cognitive and motor development.

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Unfortunately, the ability to enjoy the benefits of nature often falls along social and economic divides, deepening health inequalities in cities. This means that poor health, disproportionately borne by those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, is compounded by greater environmental burdens where they live. For example, a European systematic review showed that socially disadvantaged children commonly suffer from multiple and cumulative health burdens related to poor quality housing, greater exposure to traffic and industrial pollution, and a lack of healthy, natural spaces where they live. These children are more susceptible to harm from adverse environmental conditions because they often lack protective factors such as adequate nutrition, opportunity for play and essential health care.

Tackling health inequalities is a major global health priority, and ensuring equitable access to nature must be part of that strategy. While exposure to nature can benefit everyone, there is consistent evidence that the benefits are strongest among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.

The association between green space and reduced mortality has been found to be strongest in the most socioeconomically deprived urban areas. Increased green space exposure also appears to decrease the effect of income deprivation on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Multiple studies on green space exposure and birth have found that the strongest positive associations are found among the most socially disadvantaged. It is not clear why these stronger associations exist but emerging evidence suggests that nature may provide a buffer from difficult life circumstances, and be protective against stress as a setting for emotional, physical, and social support.

The benefits of everyday contact with nature are vast and there is a need to ensure that this nurturing from nature is not determined by a person’s wealth, income, or ability to leave the city. Time in nature is an essential right of childhood and sets a critical foundation for lifelong health. As an increasingly urban planet, we need to configure our cities to maximize nature in every nook and cranny and guarantee everyone is free to benefit from it. Instead of planning the apportioning of trees amid sprawling cites, there is an opportunity to plan vibrant cities amid great forest canopies. Our health depends on it.

Studies referenced:

Bolte, G., Tamburlini, G., & Kohlhuber, M. (2010). Environmental inequalities among children in Europe—evaluation of scientific evidence and policy implications. The European Journal of Public Health, 20(1), 14-20.

Brown, S. C., Lombard, J., Wang, K., Byrne, M. M., Toro, M., Plater-Zyberk, E., … & Pantin, H. M. (2016). Neighborhood Greenness and Chronic Health Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

James, P., Banay, R. F., Hart, J. E., & Laden, F. (2015). A review of the health benefits of greenness. Current epidemiology reports, 2(2), 131-142.

About the author: Tara Zupančič, MPH is the Founder and Director of Habitus Research in Canada.

Aesthetics of Urban Forests: Overcoming the Objectification

The more we are developing into an urban society, the more alienated from nature we are becoming. Not only does departure from nature lead to departure from ourselves, it also changes the way we perceive nature in urban environments. How? Find out more in this blog by Luka Mesec, student of forestry from Slovenia.

Urbanization started after industrial revolution and is still increasing at a rapid rate. People are massively moving from the countryside to cities and drastically changing their lifestyles. If we let ourselves imagine a businessman from a big city, spending most of his days in his office, and an organic farmer from the countryside, who’s in close contact with nature throughout his working day, we can easily see how the process of urbanization is drawing us away from nature.

Human beings lived in the realm of nature for hundreds of thousands of years and human mind developed in the presence of nature. That itself is the reason why we try to stay linked to nature in our day to day reality, otherwise we would live in barren urban environment among buildings and other constructs. To keep the connection with nature alive, we grow urban forests.

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From the earliest stages of human history aesthetic relation of man to his reality and surroundings has been an important part of our society’s development. With urbanization, our perception of nature is becoming more and more ambivalent: on one side nature is the real and good that contrasts the society as the artificial and destructive, and on the other side nature is something wild and threatening which we have to domesticate to protect ourselves.

Furthermore, the more urbanized and alienated from nature we are becoming, the more we’re objectifying it. It seems that nature, especially urban nature, is being turned into an aesthetic object.

Urban trees should not be perceived as aesthetic or art objects. Art objects do not possess features such as metabolism, regeneration and evolutionary history. A tree is a living subject which together with other subjects creates a living, dynamic and complex whole – an urban forest. An urban forest is therefore a living system which includes living subjects. Most of us agree that urban nature is simply beautiful, but there’s so much more to its aesthetic value than meets the eye. There is just something so “primal” that awakens in us when we gaze into the forest.

This blog post is authored by Luka Mesec and is part of the #EFUF2016 blog competition.

Photo credit: Douglas Rodgers

Ten Years After: Welcome Back to the Urban Forests of Celje

It has been eleven years, actually. In 2005 the first EFUF in Slovenia took place in Celje, the city with long tradition of urban forests and forestry. Find out more why this year EFUF will return to Celje in this blog by Robert Hostnik, urban forest manager at the Slovenia Forest Service.

Looking back – we had a great time then. As organizers we were impressed by the response of more than 100 experts from 22 countries. They still like to share nice memories with us and rarely forget to mention the anecdote about wine and vinegar. Although not our fault, it was quite embarrassing. If you come this year, you will surely hear about “the vinegar error”. Rather than go into details, I will use it as a metaphor for a short introduction into the development of the urban forests of Celje.

From the noble wine to the sour vinegar

The social functions of the forests near the city of Celje were to a large extent recognized more than a century ago. In 1885 the municipality bought first areas of private forests on the slope above the city and equipped them with new footpaths, benches and pavilions. The forests were popular for recreation and were suitably maintained for the next eight decades.

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One of the entry points to the urban forest of Celje at Meško spring in 1905

The rapid industrialization in 1950s caused environmental problems and forest degradation. It gradually drove forest visitors away. In 1970s, when citizens could afford cars and became more mobile, they started to prefer other natural places outside the city. Regular management of the urban forests was almost abandoned.

New vineyards for the new wine

Fresh impulse for the development of the forgotten potentials of the urban forests of Celje popped up in the 1990s from local forestry experts. The results of their studies, along with the emerging conflicts between the private and public interests emphasized the need for a long-term oriented multiple use of forest management.

The City Council accepted the initiative of the Forest Service and in 1996 confirmed the proposed strategy plan for the development of the urban forests of Celje. Strategy 1996, as it was called, emphasized (1) the protection of urban forests by law, (2) improvement of the ownership structure with the redemption of private forests, (3) adapted forest management, (4) development of recreational and educational infrastructure, (5) public relations and (6) assurance of the stable financial resources.

But not just any wine

In the next decade the strategy was quite successfully implemented. The number of urban forest visitors tripled. The urban forests of Celje became a kind of a role model for other Slovenian cities. Soon the need for upgrading the existing approaches emerged. The Strategy 2006 was more focused on (1) strengthening of governance and users’ participation, (2) branding and popularization, (3) coordination of public and private interests (4) education based on forest pedagogy principles and (5) on further development of infrastructure and equipment for recreation, education and experiencing. The following years brought stronger recognition and even wider popularity of the urban forests.

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The entry point at Meško spring nowadays. Nature education based on the principles of forest pedagogy is one of the key activities of the current urban forest management in Celje.

Dear colleagues, we would be glad to present you with the results – successes and failures – of our urban forest management and projects in the last decade on the EFUF 2016 field excursion. Your feedback will be precious as we are preparing new Strategy 2016 – 2025. We are looking forward to welcome you and I promise that this time we’ll drink only an excellent wine.

About the author: Robert Hostnik works as a forest manager at the Slovenia Forest Sevice. His main fields of interest and expertise are related to the urban forestry, ecosystem services and nature education. For the last 25 years he has been actively involved in the urban forestry development in Slovenia.

Photo courtesy of Osrednja knjižnjica Celje (Rzg 3669) and Slovenia Forest Service.

Monitoring of Urban Forests – LIFE+ EMoNFUr

The benefits of urban forests for citizens and the most important results of the LIFE+ EMoNFUr project are introduced by our invited blogger Dr. Urša Vilhar, research fellow at the Forest Ecology Department of the Slovenian Forestry Institute.

Forest, trees, parks and other green areas in urban landscapes are the irreplaceable part of the nature and our environment and especially important for citizens. Urban forests are important because they provide direct contact with nature to citizens, peace, relaxation, aesthetics and in Slovenia they are frequently visited for recreation. At the same time urban forests provide a great deal of ecosystem services that play an important role at insuring the health and improving the citizens’ quality of life. Namely, urban forests filter air, protect water quality, reduce soil erosion etc. In addition, trees and soils store carbon and reduce concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But the climate changes reduce the ability of urban forests to provide these benefits for the environment and people.

The most important results of LIFE+ EMoNFUr

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In the LIFE+ EMoNFUr project a monitoring network was established to assess lowland forests in Milan (Italy) and Ljubljana (Slovenia). Monitoring of urban forests was set up at five study areas in Milan and two in Slovenia during a 3-year period.

A network of permanent plots for monitoring urban forests was established in Milan and Ljubljana. The inventory of urban and peri-urban forests was preformed in Milan. Researchers from the Slovenian Forestry Institute assessed diversity of selected plant and animal species, monitored insects and diseases of forest trees and their health status in Ljubljana’s urban forests. They have also analyzed soil pollution, monitored visits to the urban forest, assessed air pollution, analyzed tree growth, assessed forest inventory, estimated carbon stocks in trees and forest soils, monitored water quality and quantity from forested watershed, etc.

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A part of the LIFE+ EMoNFUr project monitoring network in the Landscape park Tivoli, Rožnik and Šišenski hrib for monitoring urban forests. The Forest inventory revealed that 1 hectare of urban forest on average sequestrated 138 tonnes of carbon in above ground, below ground and dead wood biomass.

The results have shown that:

  • Tree health is especially important in urban areas – diseased or injured trees can pose threat to humans and property.
  • Urban forests sustain the quality of drinking water sources and have a large capacity for retaining excess stormwater and melting snow.
  • Forest soils in Ljubljana have proved to be well preserved and represent one of the cleanest environments in Ljubljana.
  • In urban forests, the air temperatures during the heat wave are appreciably lower than in the urban center.
  • the diversity of plant and animal species is an important indicator of biodiversity in the urban forest
  • At the same time urban forests serve as natural filter for pollutants, while in average 1 hectare of urban forest binds 138 tons of carbon.

The most important EMoNFUr project results are the online guidelines and the Protocol for monitoring urban forests, which can be used by any city in Europe and around the world. The documents include a wide range of recommendations and criteria for detailed descriptions of ecological, environmental and social values of urban forests.

Dr. Urša Vilhar, Slovenian Forestry Institute

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Acknowledgement: the  LIFE+ EMoNFUr project was financially supported by the European Commission’s LIFE – Financial Instrument for the Environment.

Urban Wildlife: Our Non-human Neighbors

Animals are a lot smarter that we think and will always find an opportunity for a free lunch. A process of animals adapting to urban life is called synurbization. The phenomenon that has emerged in the last few decades raises new challenges for wildlife managers.

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A view from my office: a roe deer resting in the landscape park Tivoli, Rožnik and Šišenski hrib.

Over the Hedge (2006) is one of my favorite computer-animated films. The main character of the story is RJ the raccoon. He shows the great piles of food that humans consume and waste to wild animals and asks them: “Why bother with foraging for food when we can just steel all the ‘yummy’ food from humans?” And then the trouble begins… 🙂

Cities all over the world are becoming home to a great variety of wildlife species, which became part of our everyday life. Most of the species became so common that we can’t imagine cities without them – think about the pigeons in the City of Venice. Feeding squirrels and birds in the city park Tivoli is one way that citizens of Ljubljana are maintaining contact with wildlife and interact with the natural environment.

Wildlife species need food, water, shelter and space to survive. They like the abundance of food in fields, orchards, gardens, parks and other urban ecological islands. So it is not surprising that wild animals are attracted to urban settings. And yes, disgusting as it may seem, human garbage is also a source of ‘free lunch’ that comes on a daily basis. While we enjoy the sight of bees feeding on flowers, we are not that thrilled to see a fox or a crow (or even a bear) going through our trash.

Cities provides water all year round, coming from various sources such as ponds, puddles, drainage ditches and fountains – oases where even in the hottest summers urban wildlife can find bathing and drinking water. In addition to food and water, the urban environment is an endless provider of cover where wildlife seeks protection, raise their young, nest or just rest. Most people don’t even notice all the opportunities where animals find their little hiding places. Well, at least until we don’t find out that we share our attic with a colony of bats or noisy dormice.

For humans, sharing urban environment with wildlife is acceptable until we don’t feel threatened or our possessions get endangered. When it comes to reducing human – wildlife conflicts, first a sound monitoring and management system has to be established. An urban wildlife manager has to understand the biology and ecology of a species and its interactions in an urban settings.

We manage wildlife with direct population reduction and by modification of animal habitat through habitat factors described previously. Somebody once said: “Wildlife management is, at its core, the management of people“and I couldn’t agree more. The concept of hunting animals is not highly acceptable among people who are living in cities. When we decide to kill or remove a problematic animal from an urban area, we also disturb a part of society that is worried about the pain and suffering of the animals. The key to managing wildlife populations in urban settings is habitat manipulation. Wildlife managers have to see the urban environment not just from anthropocentric aspect, but also from the ecological point of view.

When planning for urban greening and for urban forests, think about the wild animals living in the city!

Saša Vochl, Slovenian Forestry Institute, Department for Forest and Landscape Planning and Monitoring

A warm invitation to the European Forum on Urban Forestry 2016

The Slovenian Forestry Institute, the City of Ljubljana (European Green Capital 2016) and the Slovenia Forest Service are hosting the 19th European Forum on Urban Forestry conference with the lead theme “Urban forests for resilient cities”. The Forum will take place in Ljubljana and Celje, Slovenia, from May 31 to June 4 2016.

The European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) is an annual event that started 19 years ago. It provides a meeting place for practitioners, scientists and educators involved with the planning, design and management of urban forests – from woodlands to urban parks and street trees. Participants come from across Europe, as well as from other parts of the world – this year, scientists from North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and others are registered to participate.

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Dr. Andrej Verlič, Head of EFUF2016 Organising Committee

Each Forum takes a general and a few specific themes where urban forestry can contribute and discuss. This year’s themes are the resilience of cities, public health and well-being, governance and management of urban forest and trees, and how they could bring the city to a spotlight – the promotion of a city. The first edition of the EFUF was held in Wuppertal, Germany, in 1998. The cities that hosted Forum are Aarhus, Budapest, Durham, Trondheim, Arnhem, Stockholm, Celje, Florence, Gelsenkirchen, Hämeenlinna, Arnhem, Tulln, Glasgow, Leipzig, Milano, Lausanne and Brussels.

The 2016 EFUF will be held in the City of Ljubljana and in the City of Celje. In Celje they are going to demonstrate the development of their local urban forestry since first hosting EFUF in 2005! You are going to enjoy the venue of Ljubljana Castle, an eminent location on top of the forested hill in the centre of the city, visit the city forests, parks and other green infrastructure and get to know some of the brilliant nature-based solutions that brought Ljubljana the title of European Green Capital for 2016. In Celje, you will visit their city forests, learn about the development of the brand Mestni gozd Celje (Town forest Celje) and see the most enchanting forest tree house in Slovenia. There’s more – you will take a boat cruise on Ljubljanica river from the very center of the City and visit some magnificent regional parks in Slovenia on the Saturday excursion. Which ones? Stay tuned – it’s still a secret 😉

We know that there are many interesting things happening in cities and around them all over the world and many new scientific evidence has been collected during the last decade. We want to bring those in the spotlight – at the conference or on this EFUF 2016 blog. Why not take advantage of both opportunities and share your achievements, ideas, solutions or examples?

On behalf of the Organising Committee, I warmly invite you to join EFUF 2016 in every possible way – on Facebook, on Twitter, write and comment on the #EFUF2016 blog and present your paper at the conference in Ljubljana!

Dr. Andrej Verlič, Slovenian Forestry Institute

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A view from Ljubljana Castle. Photo: Mark Doliner