#EFUF2016 Blog Competition Winner

We are happy to announce the winner of the #EFUF2016 blog competition – it is Pieter Wieringa! Pieter’s contribution stood out for its originality, content and relevance. It represents an unique approach and analysis of most of the main themes that will be discussed at the forthcoming EFUF 2016 conference. We feel Pieter Wieringa’s contribution will make a significant impact in raising awareness and opening discussion about the importance of urban forest conservation, in his own country and beyond.

We would also like to congratulate Naomi Zürcher and John Gallagher, the finalists of the blog competition, for their highly commendable entries!

The winner wins a free full EFUF 2016 conference package, while the finalists will be rewarded with a free Saturday excursion. All three authors also get an opportunity to present the story behind their post at the EFUF 2016 conference, either by oral presentation or by a poster.

The #EFUF2016 blog competition received many diverse and fantastic blogs addressing the challenges of urban forestry. We would like to deeply thank you all for participating and we hope you will be joining us in Ljubljana!

Be sure not to miss our next blog post on the #EFUF2016 blog – we will present the authors of the best blog posts in more detail!

The Winner

“Nature Takes Over: Unexpected Green Change in Ploiesti, Romania” – Pieter Wieringa

Urban forestry in Romania is in its infancy. There are no present discussions taking a more holistic view at urban green spaces in Ploiesti. Based on field research and existing information I was able to create the above map and gather data. (Pieter Wieringa)

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The Finalists

“Resilience” – Naomi Zürcher

Now that most of us are living in cities, we’ve decided we want to put these Forest trees back into our urban landscapes, not the way they were before, not the way they have evolved to exist, but according to our needs and our designs. (Naomi Zürcher)

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“It’s a walk in the park” A green solution to lower air and noise pollution” – John Gallager

Have you ever thought about the route you take to work? Could you take a better route? What is a better route? I ask myself these questions when I make my commute to work every morning.(John Gallagher)

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Photo credit: Paxon Woelber

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Does Money Grow on Trees After All?

How can a city benefit from trees? As calculated by Dan Burden, growing trees might be the best long-term investment for a city – a single street tree returns over 80,000 € of direct benefits in its lifetime. Here’s a quick look at some of the most prominent positions for hiring trees that research has thrown light upon so far.

  1. Trees increase property values

This is not surprising as trees create a tapestry of colour, fragrance and interesting form that changes throughout the year, screen unattractive views and soften the harsh contours of buildings. Trees help residential and commercial properties to rent more quickly and to have a higher occupancy rate. They can add up to 15 percent to residential property value and where the entire street is tree-lined, homes may be worth 25% more.

  1. Trees increase business and commercial activity

An abundant tree canopy can attract new residents, tourists and businesses into a neighbourhood. Studies show that people like to spend more time and money in districts with more trees. In addition, having offices with a view of nature and access to green areas during breaks translates into healthier, more productive and satisfied employees.

  1. Trees reduce energy expenditure

Strategically placed trees around a building can reduce summer cooling costs by as much as 30%, while in winter heating costs can be reduced by a similar percentage with the use of trees as windbreaks. A tree is a natural air conditioner and can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Neighborhoods well-shaded with street trees can be up to 6-10 degrees cooler.

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Urban trees provide many benefits for a city and its residents
  1. Trees reduce water management costs

Trees reduce stormwater management costs and produce better water quality. They act as natural water filters and prevent harmful land pollutants contained in the soil from getting into our waterways. They significantly slow the movement of stormwater, which lowers total runoff volume, soil erosion and flooding.

  1. Trees reduce costs for meeting regulatory pollution requirements

Trees contribute to meeting a city’s regulatory clean air requirements by capturing more than 60% of the particulate air pollution. They remove dust, particulates, absorb ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants. Estimates show that over a 50-year lifetime, a tree provides more than 50,000 € worth of air pollution control. Trees also act as sound buffers and reduce noise pollution by absorbing and blocking more than 40% of urban noise.

  1. Trees reduce health care costs

Trees catch air pollutants that damage human lungs which enhances a community’s respiratory health and ameliorates respiratory problems, such as asthma. They provide protection against ozone-associated health issues. Studies show that hospital patients with a view of trees out their windows recover much faster and with fewer complications. Time spent in nature not only promotes greater physical activity, but also reduces stress, eye strain and lowers blood pressure.

  1. Trees increase security and strength of a community

Trees lower anxious and violent behaviour – the greener the neighbourhood, the lower the crime rate. In homes surronded by trees there is less domestic violence and child abuse than in barren conditions. Trees also create a physical barrier between the street and the sidewalk, keeping pedestrians, children and pets out of harm’s way. Urban nature creates popular meeting places, inviting citizens to spend time together relaxing, walking, jogging or playing. These activities encourage interaction, bring neighbours together and strengthen urban communities.

As shown, urban trees provide a wide array of solutions to a city’s welfare and resilience. A city with an abundance of trees is a rich, sociably stable, safe and healthy city.

Author: Anita Mašek, Slovenian Forestry Institute

Featured photo by star5112.

“It’s a walk in the park” A green solution to lower air and noise pollution

Is there a green solution to lower air and noise pollution on your daily commute to work? Find out in this blog by Dr. John Gallagher, a post-doctoral researcher (Civil and Environmental Engineer) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Bangor University.

Have you ever thought about the route you take to work? Could you take a better route? What is a better route? I ask myself these questions when I make my commute to work every morning. I have realised that we are creatures of habit, and we consciously or perhaps unconsciously like routine. What are we missing out on due to routine?

Our city parks for example, a valuable resource that provides us with green zones and offers a place to escape from the fast pace of urban life. Yet, do we take advantage of them during our daily commute, where they are available on our route? They can provide a much greener alternative to a busy roadside footpath, but is that the only benefit? What about lower noise levels and better air quality? Perhaps this is not a priority for many of us?

Research proved a long time ago that the closer you are to the source of pollution, the greater the exposure. At least the existence of a barrier between the source (car) and receptor (us), can reduces the level we are exposed to on a daily basis. Anything from parked cars, hedgerows and trees can help protect us from the nearby source to some degree. Trees along the outer edge of the park creates a baffle to protect those inside from direct high levels of noise and air pollution. Use that to your advantage, take a walk in the park!

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Parallel routes – roadside and park paths.

From a noise pollution perspective, as part of a study that was undertaken in 2015 by myself and colleagues, we examined paired routes (one roadside path and one parallel park path) around Hyde Park in London. Hyde Park is a perfect example of a city park to enjoy the green space as part of a commute. Comparing the results between routes showed a reduction in decibel levels due to a combination of increased distance from the road, plus the presence and density of vegetation. Other research studies have shown similar benefits for air pollution.

Despite these results, approximately half the number of pedestrians walk along the roadside footpath as opposed to the parallel path in the park. The next question to answer is how to change behaviour? And who should take responsibility to help change this routine behaviour?

Next time you’re walking through the city, consider this “is this the best route for me to have a more tranquil and less polluted trip?” Taking a diverted route through your nearby park may not increase your journey time, and even if it does by one minute, avoiding the highest roadside levels of noise and air pollution from traffic might be worth it. Enjoy a healthier, greener route in your area and consider changing your routine by changing your route.

Author: Dr. John Gallagher, Bangor University, School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering