Urban and peri-urban forestry

A Green Vision for Our Cities

At the dawn of the third millennium, the global population shifted to being mainly urban and the trend is set to continue. Unfortunately, and too often, this situation produced highly damaging effects on forests, landscape, as well as other tree and green systems in and around cities. For the most,  rapid expansion of cities has taken place without any real land use planning strategy in place to support such growth. Another issue that cities face is the absence of effective platforms for dialogue, which would give urban dwellers the opportunity to define a common vision with national governments, local authorities and civil society.

A forested city which grows in harmony with its ecosystem becomes a resilient city in term of mitigation and adaptation to climate changes. An urban watershed with adequate tree cover helps prevent landslides and floods. Trees mitigate the impact of strong winds, and reduce damage to road and building infrastructure.   Trees slow the wind and provide shade reducing costs of air conditioning and heating.   Wood residues are widely used as wood energy for heating and local electricity production. The decreased “heat island effect” prevents detrimental impact on wellbeing, health and death of very vulnerable people. Scientific studies have demonstrated these positive values.   

Economically, public and private enterprises generate green jobs and income through multi-usage management and maintenance of woodlands and trees. Farming and landscape systems that incorporate agroforestry and high-yielding plantations can supply nearby markets at competitive prices.  Integrating green (“soft”) and grey (“hard”) infrastructure is not only more pleasing but are frankly more resistant, have a longer life and are less costly than concrete and pavement alone. In addition, the esthetic value of a green city is highly appreciated and has an impact on community building, mental and physical health, land and property values, and attracts businesses. Extensive research and experience demonstrates that towns which have taken steps to invest in a green vision have subsequently enjoyed many benefits.

FAO is supporting its member countries and their cities in responding to own priorities according to their reality. Supporting the optimization of trees and forests for cities will take various form such as green belts, urban watershed management, waste water use for agroforestry systems, botanical gardens and recreational parks, desertification control and biodiversity conservation, tree nurseries, pollution and health improvement, school plantations and food security.
FAO promotes a green vision for all cities.

Our vision is a green healthy and resilient city for all where people and nature live together in harmony. The optimization and the diversity of the trees and forests in our green city is a key element of the urban fabric that will participate to biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation. All together, our green cities will participate to build a sustainable world

The Urban and Peri-Urban Forestry Programme of the Forestry Department, together with the Food for the Cities multi-disciplinary initiative (FCIT), participate to this vision by: putting information within reach; sharing policy expertise; providing a meeting place for nations; and bringing knowledge to the field.

last updated:  Tuesday, July 29, 2014