Urban forestry

Urban Forestry Worldwide

The awareness of governments and communities on the urgency of taking effective actions and applying policies that can counteract the trend of climate change and the effects on the urban environment has globally grown. The Forestami research surveyed international organizations (C40, Resilient Cities Network, World Mayor Council on Climate Change, Sustainable Cities Network, FAO, ICLEI, Global Platforms and Sustainable Cities, ...) that have promoted initiatives to increase the resilience of cities and Nature-Based Solutions.

Increasing natural capital in its various forms such as the tree planting, reforestation, and multiplying the number of plants in the urban environment, has proven to be the most effective, economical and engaging way to slow global warming, reduce energy consumption and clean the air we breathe from particulate matter.

The exchange of knowledge and collaboration with these networks aims to pool and capitalize on the experiences and available assets, facilitating cooperation and a strategic positioning of the Forestami project on an international scale. By formulating a research body supplemented by such a diverse network of legitimate and proven sources, the research conducted by Forestami will ideally be a global best practice and act as a guide for budding innovative urban forestry policies and strategies. The case studies presented within the research constitute a valid contribution to the implementation of policies and good practices to combat the effects of climate change in the urban environment, as well as to make the territory more resilient.

This is achieved through the use of an often underestimated "tool" in terms of human health benefits and in terms of ecosystem services provided to the environment: trees.

Urban forestry strategies

After the mapping phase, the research transitioned to identifying urban forestry strategies suitable for responding to the specific needs of the area. The scenario for Milan of 2030 were developed starting from the categories of urban and peri-urban forestry identified by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization):

01 Create a green infrastructure in the metropolitan city through the establishment of a network of green and blue corridors to connect parks, forests, agriculture and green architecture;

02 Implement and strengthen green in public parks

03 Promote coordination on projects for the renaturalization and enhancement of the landscape

04 Increase the green and permeable areas by reducing the level parking areas

05 Enhance urban and peri-urban agriculture and promote the creation of urban gardens;

06 Promote compensation policies on land consumption and projects with an impact on the environment

07 Promote the transformation of school, university and hospital courtyards into green oases

08 Promote the transformation of condominium courtyards, private gardens and urban voids into green oases;

09 Promote the demineralization of paved surfaces and introduce Nature Based Solutions within commercial and industrial areas

10 Increase the number and surfaces of green roofs;

11 Reclaim abandoned and polluted soils through phytoremediation processes.

strategic objectives and benefits

Forestami is an integrated, interdisciplinary and strategic research project that worked on building a vision and a set of actions for:

evaluate the state of affairs of the Metropolitan city of Milan from a climatic, environmental and anthropic point of view to establish a zero point in the forestry project of the metropolitan area;

recognize trees and shrubs as essential green infrastructures for the physiological, sociological and economic wellbeing of urban and peri-urban areas and for contrasting the growing effects of climate change;

plan the tree canopy cover of the Milanese metropolitan area over the next ten years and beyond, to increase the natural capital;

guide the management, conservation and maintenance of the existing and future heritage of trees and shrubs in the Metropolitan City of Milan;

monitor and quantify the ecosystem services (ESS) of urban forests;

encourage new forms of collaboration between public and private sector and build new models of governance and financing;

raise awareness among citizens and the private sector on the importance and role of green systems.

Urban green infrastructures provide a wide variety of environmental, socio-cultural, economic and clinical-health benefits widely documented by the scientific literature, which Forestami research has collected and highlighted:

reduction of climate-altering agents through the absorption and storage of CO2

removal of atmospheric pollutants and of fine particles due to absorption via the leaf surface

absorption of soil contaminants through phytoremediation processes edited by the plants root system

moderation of rainwater

regulation of the urban microclimate and local urban temperatures, with the consequent mitigation of the urban heat island effect

mitigation of urban noise pollution

improvement of the urban landscape

preservation and increased biodiversity of plant species and fauna

supply of food in the form of nuts, fruits, edible leaves and timber

decrease in crime in contexts with a high tree coverage index

increase of social cohesion and increase of social relations

improvement of physical and mental health, with a decrease in blood pressure and stress

reduction in mortality due to heat waves

reduction of cardiopulmonary diseases and lower incidence of respiratory problems

reduction of cases of lung cancer

reduction of cases of overweight and obesity

reduction of mental disorders

The Quality Standards of Forestami

To maximize results, obtain greater benefits and optimize the ecosystem services provided through the planting of new trees, it is necessary that the projects’ definition process is made thanks to the joint interaction of a multidisciplinary team of professionals: ecologists, landscape architects, agronomists, foresters, urban planners, sociologists, pedologists and engineers. The Forestami project is committed to this direction, with two prerequisites for new green infrastructures: adaptability to the conditions of the planting area and genetic species differentiation. In other words, putting the right tree in the right place (also forecasting its growth, both in the airspace as well as in the soil) so that the plant can develop properly and the place where it is inserted is enriched with all the benefits that the plant system delivers. Secondly, the increase and conservation of a great plant genetic diversity (native and exotic) makes urban greenery less vulnerable to pests and diseases and strengthens its resilience to the effects of the climate change.