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World Forum on Urban Forests launches a global call to action

World Forum on Urban Forests launches a global call to action
December 31, 2018

The first-ever global forum on urban forests has moved forward with a significant milestone in relation to urban greening and trees in the built environment.

Held earlier this month in Mantova, Italy, the World Forum on Urban Forests saw the highlighting of different positive examples of planning, design and management approaches of cities around the world which have used urban greening to develop economic and environmental services and strengthen social cohesion and public involvement.

Amid Australia’s current heatwave, the recognition of the role of trees in cooling of suburbs in cooling cities has never been more important, and the Forum’s eight point Call for Action on greener, healthier and happier cities for all aims to highlight the call to action on maximising the benefits of urban greenery globally.

The Call for Action outlines a vision of a city where urban and peri-urban forests, trees and other green infrastructure will be:

• Used as a tool for achieving sustainable development goals at all levels;
• Recognised for the wide range of benefits and services they provide to urban communities;
• Acknowledged as critical infrastructure, similar to transportation or utilities;
• Viewed and managed as a whole;
• Regarded as a strategic component of the landscape, aimed at harmonising relations between cities and interconnected rural areas;
• Valued as an efficient living system capable of improving human health and well-being at a reasonable cost;
• Considered as a strategic element of urban sustainability by promoting environmental justice and community involvement; and managed to preserve the highest ecosystem complexity and integrity.
• The Call to Action stresses that forests and trees should be protected and restored and rural-urban linkages should be enhanced.

The Call for Action makes a number of recommendations to use urban forests and trees to make cities greener, healthier, happier, cooler, wilder, cleaner, wealthier and safer. To make cities wilder, for instance, the Call for Action suggests conserving and creating a heterogeneous system of natural green spaces within and around urban areas, developing strategies and guidelines for urban biodiversity conservation and management, promoting initiatives to harmonize national and local policies to better interconnect natural landscapes in and around urban areas and implementing educational programmes to foster student discovery, experience and value of local biodiversity.

The Forum put forward a set of eight forest solutions. Solutions focus on: expanding canopy cover in cities and “using the right tree in the right place”; promoting community gardens, urban agriculture and urban flood forests; increasing the number of green buildings and vertical forests and encouraging installation of green roofs; and converting neglected areas, courtyards and brownfields into green spaces. Solutions also recommend: developing political agendas that promote green spaces and urban forests; using existing technical guidelines to plan, design and manage urban forests and trees; creating and promoting green jobs and economic opportunities; and monitoring the ‘heat island effect’ in cities to support strategic planning or urban forests.

The first World Forum on Urban Forests launched a Call for Action on greener, healthier and happier cities for all. The Forum also issued a challenge to all cities around the globe to adhere to the ‘Tree Cities of the World Program.’

The World Forum on Urban Forests was attended by government representatives, academics, NGOs, urban planners and foresters, arborists, landscape architects and designers. The forum discussed greening strategies from around the world, long-term collaboration opportunities, and identified nature-based solutions for a greener, healthier, and happier future.

The Forum aimed to highlight different positive examples of planning, design and management approaches of cities around the world which have used urban greening to develop economic and environmental services and strengthen social cohesion and public involvement.

The event was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Municipality of Mantova, the Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (SISEF) and the Politecnico di Milano organized the Forum under the patronage of the EU.

Held from 28th November to 1st December, The Forum took place under the theme, ‘Changing the Nature of Cities: the Role of Urban Forestry for a Green, Healthier and Happier Future.’ Over 600 participants from around the world, including more than 150 speakers, shared positive examples of urban forest design, planning and management from around the world, illustrating the role of forests and green spaces in creating more resilient and sustainable cities.

Participants recognised the role of forests and green spaces in addressing challenges related to urbanisation, such as by mitigating climate impacts, protecting water sources, preventing soil erosion and floods, improving temperatures and removing harmful pollutants, among other benefits.

FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry Department, Hiroto Mitsugi, underscored the need for more sustainable models of urban growth that take into account forests and green spaces.

He said existing and future cities “must plan and design green spaces and urban forests to fulfill different interests and needs” as well as to provide ecosystem services and enhance the rural-urban continuum.

For more information go to

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.

Click here for more information on the FAO's urban forestry initiatives.

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9th February 2018 - Climate change threatening Australian tourism

31st May 2017 - $1.2 million City of Melbourne backing for Urban Forest Fund

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14th April 2015 - Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy ‘the most compelling urban landscape project in Australia’

27th July 2012 - Report highlights growing importance of urban green space

19th October 2009 - Urban trees deliver green benefits

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