Urban forests can be defined as networks or systems comprising all woodlands, groups of trees, and individual trees located in urban and peri-urban areas; they include, therefore, forests, street trees, trees in parks and gardens, and trees in derelict corners. Urban forests are the backbone of the green infrastructure, bridging rural and urban areas and ameliorating a city’s environmental footprint.

Urban and peri-urban forestry (UPF) can be defined as an integrated, interdisciplinary, participatory and strategic approach to planning and managing tree resources in urban and peri-urban areas for their economic, environmental and sociocultural benefits. In practical terms, UPF may consist in planting trees where they never existed before, in enhancing existing natural vegetation or in harmonizing urban sprawl into green spaces. Urban and peri-urban tree resources, comprising dispersed single trees, small groups of trees and forests, contribute to the green infrastructure, i.e. natural or engineered ecological systems that conserve ecosystem values and functions.

The scope of the UPF approach allows bringing together the single-tree management – the arboriculture perspective – with an ecosystem-scale management of urban green infrastructure that includes such considerations as municipal watersheds, wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation opportunities, landscape design, recycling of municipal wastes and harvesting of tree products. In this sense, UPF represents a merging of different disciplines: arboriculture, ornamental horticulture, forestry, landscape architecture, urban planning and design, environmental sciences, etc. Due to its particular nature, UPF faces specific challenges which place it apart from conventional forestry.

Paris, France; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Frankfurt, Germany. ©FAO/Sophie Laliberté

 FAO supports the development of UPF actions, projects and strategies for the promotion of a sustainable and resilient urban development model.

"For the first time, more than half the world's population live in cities and towns. By extension, urban and peri-urban forestry is becoming the window through which people make judgements about all the worlds’ trees and forests. We must ensure that cities, trees and forests grow together to meet the needs of urbanized societies and to convey the importance of all forests to life on our planet”  - Eduardo Rojas-Briales, former Assistant Director-General and Head of the Forestry Department, FAO, Rome, November 2010


last updated:  Thursday, October 5, 2017