Maximizing the benefits of urban forests and trees for sustainable development
17 July 2018, Rome - Sustainable management of urban forests and green spaces makes cities and their inhabitants more resilient to climate change and helps to achieve the global sustainability goals. This was the main message of an urban forestry event held today during World Forest Week at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Urban forests should be viewed, not as a cost but as an investment in future health and well-being of urban dwellers. This is because forests provide a wide range of services — from reducing air and noise pollution to improving human health and well-being, to boosting economies and mitigating extreme climate events. A well-developed network of parks, forests, street trees and other green spaces are key to sustainable urban development, according to discussions during the event ‘High-Level Dialogue on Urban and Peri-urban Forestry’. Urban forests also contribute to the achievement of a number of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to sustainable communities, good health, good jobs and economic growth.
Discussions highlighted the economic benefits of urban trees, which should be considered during the planning and design of urban green spaces. It was noted that trees and forests in urban settings also make a significant contribution to health care, reducing costs to public health systems; they reduce temperatures, resulting in energy savings; and can increase tourism, which is good for urban economy.
The event during the 6th World Forest Week, which took place concurrently with the 24th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 24), also looked ahead to the 1st World Forum on Urban Forests that will be held in Mantova, Italy on 28 November to 1 December 2018. The Forum will bring together representatives of national and local governments, research and academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, urban planners and urban foresters to discuss long-term collaborations on the development of urban forestry strategies and the identification of nature-based solutions for a greener future.