Avoid Copy Paste when Greening the Cities with Forests-Experts
By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
Experts on the role of forests in the well-being of urban dwellers find that there should be a significant role of the people and cities in which they live in the protection and care of urban forests as they contribute to the well-being of urban dwellers and those who spent their time working in cities.
This was revealed during the 1st African Forum on Urban Forests which started from Monday 5 July to Friday 9 July 2021.
The forum was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in collaboration with various local and International Organisations operating in Africa.
According to experts, cities are struggling with the challenges of unsustainable urbanisation, degradation of urban ecosystems, lack of resilience to climate change and non-inclusive urban planning.
In many African cities and even worldwide, rivers have become the dumping ground for waste and waste water discharge which aggravates the situation to the highly vulnerable conditions.
This call for local authorities to act swiftly aims to provide citizens with healthy and liveable conditions through sustainable development and regeneration, to mainstream and promote nature-based solutions as a tool to create sustainable, resilient and liveable cities.
Simone Borelli, FAO’s Agroforestry and Urban/Periurban Forestry Officer argues that in order to cope with climate change, urban forestry and urban greening are increasingly recognised as one of the best approaches.
During his presentation, Mr. Borelli highlighted that urban forests improve the dryland cities to climate change.
“There is a growth in knowledge about conserving forest and tree cover in and around cities and its importance. However there are still many barriers that prevent the adoption and upscaling of this approach.” Mr. Borelli said.
According to Cities4Forests organization, the challenges facing Urban forests include the fact that exposure to pollutants, high temperatures, extreme drought and inundation, and limited space above- and below-ground inhibit proper root and crown formation and increase susceptibility to insects and disease.
Among other challenges there are: Insufficient resources for proper care while it is critical to a thriving urban forest, despite time demands, resources, and coordination from municipal governments.
There is also the pressure from development—either as expansion or infill—often results in loss of urban forest canopy and other green spaces while Incomplete public understanding of the benefits provided by the urban forest also still plays a hindrance role where Urban trees are often viewed as a financial burden or risk, but the benefits they provide may be poorly understood and undervalued by the public and by decision-makers.
It was also pointed out at the forum that not all countries should copy and paste in the building of Urban Forests because the problems are different in the cities and so the strategies have to be different to find solutions to the existing problems.
During the thematic session of which TOPAFRICANEWS reporter attended, Mervat Almhirat, Deputy of City Director for Health and Agricultural Affairs, Amman, Jordan explained that “In greening cities, Authorities should avoid copy paste solution because each city has its own nature of problem that needs a greening solution not similar to other city.”