EFUF 2016: Day One Recap

The exciting first day of the European Forum on urban forestry 2016 is behind us! We have gathered today’s highlights for you in our new blog post.

More than 80 researchers and experts in urban forestry and green infrastructure from all over the world gathered today in Ljubljana at the venue of Ljubljana Castle to attend EFUF 2016, organized by Slovenian Forestry Institute, Slovenia Forest Service, the City of Ljubljana and the City of Celje.

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First day of EFUF 2016. Photos: Urban Ušeničnik

“How to build cities that support life?” was the opening question of the EFUF 2016. Today the spotlight was on building the hosting city of Ljubljana, the European Green Capital of 2016. The city’s representatives presented efforts and achievements in environmental protection that could keep the city of Ljubljana green, healthy and beautiful; now and in the future.

The introduction was followed by keynote speakers: Cecil Konijendijk van den Bosch, Clive Davies, Tara Zupancic, Simone Borelli and Natalie Gulsrud. They touched the subject of the past and future development of urban forestry. Once urban forests were mostly parts of a city with an aesthetic value for the city residents, but today their numerous ecosystem services are gaining more and more recognition. Higher levels of governance and management can play an active role in green infrastructure development, using different means to encourage city municipalities to build greener and more sustainable cities. If urban forestry was once only a Western concern it is not anymore; it has turned global and is growing strong in the developing countries. Prominent speakers also defined the term ‘resilience‘, the main theme of this year’s EFUF, and together with valuable contribution from GREEN SURGE and LIFEGENMON projects presented different aspects of resilience: from governance and management to public health and biodiversity.

As we are recognizing the many benefits of urban forests and green infrastructure, we realize they might be the solution to many of our ‘urban’ problems. In the words of one of the speakers –“The green pill is all around us” – and there has never been a better time to invest in urban forests than now.

EFUF 2016 continues tomorrow, moving to the second venue in the city of Celje. You will hear more from us soon, so stay tuned!

Author: Anita Mašek, Slovenian Forestry Institute

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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.

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