Urban Forestry for Sustainable Living

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Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator

Urbanization is the movement of people from rural to urban areas, and the result is the growth of cities. It is also a process by which rural areas are transformed into urban areas. Urbanization is a process that is occurring, in nearly every part of the world that humans have inhabited. People move into cities to seek economic opportunities. Due to urbanization, distance between city inhabitants and nature is increasing.

Urban forestry is the best alternate to address this problem. Urban forestry is generally defined as the art, science and technology of managing trees and forest resources in and around urban community ecosystems for the physiological, sociological, economic, and aesthetic benefits trees provide society. It facilitates wholesome healthy living environment, and contributes to growth of smart, clean, green, sustainable and healthy cities. There are many cities where the forest department has its land. However, there is no forest on these lands or even if it exists it is degraded. In such places through people’s participation, urban forestry is established.

Urban forestry is to be planned, and systematically integrated into the cities. International minimum standard suggested by the WHO and adopted by the publications of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a minimum availability of 9 square meter green open space per city dweller. Before the city expands further a proper plan for greening in the city especially with respect to land availability in the form of parks, gardens and road side plantation should be planned and implemented.

Trees in urban system provide a variety of ecosystem services including biodiversity conservation, removal of atmospheric pollutants, oxygen generation, noise reduction, climate regulation, stabilization of soil, groundwater recharge, prevention of soil erosion, carbon sequestration and mitigation of urban heat island effect. Urban heat island is an urban area or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. Trees provide opportunity for physical fitness. Urban forests, parks, and open spaces have become increasingly popular as places to walk, run, bike, and hike. Less violence occurs in urban public housing where there are trees. Trees afford a place for neighbors to meet and get to know each other and leading to development of friendships and network of support.

On the World Environment Day 2016, Union minister Mr. Javadekar said “Urban forestry is the new thrust area and we will be taking up massive tree plantation drive in as many as 200 cities and towns across the country. “Nagar Vana Udyan Yojana”, is a pilot scheme for a period of five years by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change to create/ develop at least one CITY FOREST in each city having Municipal Corporations or marked as Class I Cities. The Telangana government also initiated a tree planting program “Telangana ku Haritha Haram” to increase the green cover to 33% of the total geographic area.

The green mission can succeed only through active people’s participation. In addition, to avoid illegal diversion of green cover of a city for taking up developmental works, a legal framework should be in place. For effective, planned and systematic management of the tree in cities a measure of legal control is necessary. Law may be necessary for both to protect the tree from removal and to protect residents from hazardous trees.

Author: Ranaprathap Katakojwala, UGC-JRF, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Lab, EEFF Department, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), Hyderabad.

(Image source: http://www.urbannewsdigest.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/forest-Insert.jpg)

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