The Diverse Nature of the Urban Forest

In an increasingly urbanized world, there is a growing recognition of the complex interrelationships between environmental, economic and social processes. The growing focus on sustainable development is leading to a greater understanding of the multifunctional role that the natural environment can play in the health, well-being and quality of life of urban communities. The urban forest is a crucial component of this more integrated approach to city living. Planners, policy makers and politicians are starting to recognise the value of a bolder, more strategic approach to the provision of a functional green infrastructure that is able to deliver many different benefits and engage a broad cross-section of society (Jones 1994).

At the same time, there is increasing recognition across Europe of the important part that urban woodlands and other green spaces play in personal development, healthy living, social cohesion and the creation of sustainable communities (see Chap. 4). This prompts the need to engage a much wider range of expertise and experience in forest planning and management (Nilsson et al. 1999; Konijnendijk and Hoyer 2002; Hartig and Staats 2003).

Despite this emerging recognition of the value of the urban forest, if trees and woodlands are to survive within and around towns and cities, they need to coexist within a highly complex urban setting. This includes physical elements such as roads, buildings, utility service lines and other urban structures, as well as non-physical elements such as planning and development, finance, legislation, public expectation and many other factors that influence urban development and growth.

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