An urban era

In urbanised Europe, the green structure of cities and their surroundings, in which forests and other tree resources play a major role, provide urban societies with an essential range of goods and services. Recent years have seen the development of urban forestry as an integrative, multidisciplinary approach to the planning and management of all forest and tree resources – ranging from street trees to peri-urban woodlands – in and near urban areas, with the aim of providing multiple benefits. Based on central concepts and approaches such as sustainable forest management, long-term and detailed resource planning, and multi-functionality, forestry needs to develop a strong role within multidisciplinary teams dealing with urban green structures and the demands of urban populations.

Nordic experience in urbanised forestry

Nordic institutions, increasingly working together with Baltic institutions, have played a leading role in the recent development of an urban forestry R&D community in Europe. Finland, Norway and Sweden can draw upon a long experience with managing forest ecosystems in and near urban areas, an experience shared by the Baltic countries, while Denmark and Iceland have developed major expertise within urban afforestation. The social and health benefits of urban green spaces are another focus area of Nordic research, as is innovative management of urban parks and street trees. The Nordic Forest Research Co-operation Committee (SNS) supported initial Nordic and Baltic networking during the second half of the 1990s and first part of the 21st century. These networks provided a basis for COST Action E12 “Urban Forests and Trees”, which was coordinated by the Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning.

Need for more networking

As Nordic and Baltic R&D capacities within urban forestry have gradually developed, but are still rather small and primarily operating at the national level, there is a major potential for strengthening urban forestry networking. The “building stones” are in place: different Nordic (and Baltic) R&D institutions have developed their own niche within urban forestry research. Thus bringing together the respective expertise by means of a Nordic Centre of Advanced Research is highly beneficial for taking urban forestry research and development to a different level. Seed money will enable institutions to join forces, e.g. for preparing larger R&D proposals and in creating synergy between relevant national research programmes.

The first phase of CARe-FOR-US (2006-2010) helped establish a strong network and assessed the state-of-art of relevant research in the region. It also helped identify eminent research themes, which are addressed in the CAR’s second phase. Moreover, the partnership was broadened, e.g. to better serve forestry serving urban societies in a broader sense, and to involve additional research environments.

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