Urban forestry is the art, science and technology of managing trees and forest resources in and around urban community ecosystems for sociological, economic and aesthetic benefits trees provide for society. With increasing urbanization in the 20th century, the incorporation of trees into urban settlements has also increased - to the point that the management of all trees within the urban area is considered a distinct discipline of forestry.

The world is fast becoming an urban place and almost two third of the world’s population is expected to exist in urban areas by 2025. Cities occupy less than 3 per cent of the global terrestrial surface, but account for 78 per cent of carbon emissions, 60 per cent of residential water use and 76 per cent of wood used for industrial purposes. Dealing with multiple risks of climate change such as temperature and precipitation variability, drought, flooding and extreme rainfall, cyclone and storm surge, sea level rise and related environmental health menace is a stern public policy and adaptation management challenge for India.

Urban forestry is the scrupulous care and management of urban forests, i.e. tree populations in urban settings for the purpose of improving the urban environment. The urban forests involve entire cities and their environs and are an environment of trees and related organisms, structures and people. Urban forestry can be defined as the raising and management of trees in and around urban areas. Urban forests are one of those green infrastructures comprising trees which are more known for their intangible benefits than tangible benefits in urban environment.

Benefit of Urban Forestry:

      I.        Ecological Benefits:

Urban forestry plays an important role in addressing environmental engineering problems, including those related to erosion control, noise and air pollution abatement, wastewater management, watershed protection, and glare, reflection, and traffic control . A fully-grown tree can annually absorb up to 150kg of carbon dioxide — one of the main greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. 

Urban vegetation (trees and other plants) can be used to mitigate extreme storm water runoff events in urban areas and control the urban flood. Urban trees can affect stream flows as well, by their ability to intercept rainfall and affect soil infiltration rates of water.

By lowering air temperatures, they reduce microclimatic effects and improve the urban climate. Trees influence thermal comfort, energy use, and air quality by providing shade, transpiring moisture, and reducing wind speeds.

    II.        Social Benefits:

Urban trees enhance the beauty and environmental quotient of city and are among the most important features contributing to the aesthetic quality of residential streets and community parks. Urban trees can reduce stress and improved physical health for urban residents and can be of real benefit to health and enhance cultural activities by providing venues for local festivals, civic celebrations, political gatherings and theatrical performances where people of all ages can interact.

   III.        Economic Benefits:

Urban forest offers significant benefits in reducing building air-conditioning demand and reducing energy consumption and also Landscaping with trees—in yards, in parks and greenways increase property values and commercial benefits .It  act as places for recreational activity, thus making forest tourism a source of wealth generation. Furthermore, they impart various economic benefits through tangible economic items like firewood, timber, fruits, medicinal products, etc.

 

The need for urban forestry to be a planned, integrated, and systematic approach to urban tree management should be stressed. Planning is important because trees are very often considered as an afterthought once development has taken place, rather than being incorporated at the original design phase. An integrated approach implies the participation of many different organizations - local councils, municipal and national planning bodies, departments, etc. Systematic management entails regulated tree management; operations such as planting, pruning, and felling must all be conducted in an organized manner, at the appropriate time.


Urban Forests in Some Cities of India:

In India since primeval period, flowers and plants have been admired and cultivated. There are many references to the urban forests or urban planting in old Sanskrit and Buddhist literature. Some of the mughal gardens are still found in Delhi, Agra, Allahabad and Srinagar. After independence, in newly developed cities like Chandigarh, special care has been taken to include urban forestry in the city’s planning.

From the global perspective, there are wide variation both in coverage and as well as per

capita availability in green spaces in cities. Per capita urban green spaces is found to be highest in Gandhinagar in Indian Cities.

City

Per Capita Urban Green Spaces (m²)

Delhi

21.52

Chandigarh

54.45

Gandhinagar

162.80

Bangalore

17.32

Jaipur

2.30

source: Chaudhary et al (2011)

New Delhi, the capital city of India, has grown to be one of the greenest capitals in the world due to the consistent emphasis to grow more trees and strict monitoring of tree cutting permissions , with 20% green cover of total geographical area. Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) maintains nearly 14,000 parks, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has about 1,000 parks and gardens and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has many parks, city forests, biodiversity parks and other green belts. 

Gandhinagar, the capital city of Gujarat has 57.13 per cent of the total geographic area under tree cover making per capita available green space of more than 160 m2. Bangalore city of India is known as the Garden City of India due to the large number of parks and private gardens, roadside and avenue trees and the magnificent Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. The city has 705 parks spread across the city in the form of small and medium sized parks as well as large parks.


Besides these regular parks, there are around 200 open spaces and green areas, which are waiting to be developed as parks and are without any kind of infrastructure. These are basically community amenity sites earmarked for development of community infrastructure such as parks and gardens. 

On the World Environment Day, India’s Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, launched the 'Nagar Van ' project to develop 200 urban forests across the country in the next five years. The scheme will be implemented with people’s participation and collaboration between Forest Department, Municipal bodies, NGOs and corporate. 

 

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