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Embracing ‘Green Infrastructure’ – Current Food for Thought

With ever ballooning of the urban populations at an estimated growth of 10 to 12 percent annually and demands ever increasing for green environment, urban forestry is a viable option worth contemplation from policy and decision makers at this juncture. This will also compensate the concrete jungles sprouting at unchecked rate, providing a respite for urban dwellers. The so-called ‘green infrastructure’ is what the town cries silently for today.

"The so-called ‘green infrastructure’ is what the town cries silently for today"

Urban forestry is generally defined as “the art, science and technology of managing trees and forest resources in and around urban community ecosystems for the psychological, sociological, economic and aesthetic benefits trees provide” (Helms, 1998). Many people also call urban forestry “Green Infrastructure”.

Technically it is a specialized branch of forestry that deals with cultivation and management of trees for their present and potential contribution to the physiological, sociological and economical well being of urban society. It embraces a multi-managerial system that includes municipal watersheds, wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation opportunities, landscape design, recycle of municipal waste, tree care in general. Urban forestry not only deals with city trees or with single tree management, but also with tree management in the entire area influenced by and utilized by the urban population.

"Trees play a very important social role in easing tensions and improving psychological health; people simply feel better living around tree"

The role of urban forest is diverse vis-à-vis improving aesthetic quality, ecological maintenance, cleaning the air, modifying temperature extremes. They play a very important social role in easing tensions and improving psychological health; people simply feel better living around trees. One study has demonstrated that hospital patients placed in rooms with windows facing trees heal faster and require shorter hospital stays (Ulrich, 1990).

Urban Forestry also encompasses varied Environmental, Biodiversity and social benefits. This is because trees intercept some airborne pollutants from the air and remove some gaseous pollutants via stomata uptake (Erickson, 2004). Scientists have proven that trees, in all settings, provide extensive environmental benefits such as: carbon dioxide exchange, reduced energy use, air pollution reduction, and water quality improvements.

"Parks and other green areas also provide educational opportunities for urban residents"

Urban green can have a positive impact on physical and mental health, by providing settings for physical exercise and cultural and spiritual values (Seeland, in press). Parks and other green areas also provide educational opportunities for urban residents. For urban children, as well as adult students, the learning experiences available in urban parks may be some of the few opportunities they have to learn about nature through first-hand experience (IADB, 1997). Active involvement in tree-planting programs has been shown to enhance a community’s sense of social identity, self-esteem, and territoriality (Dwyer et al., 1992).

The range of benefits that urban greening provides is both practical and comprehensive and addresses many of the social, environmental and economic problems most cities face. Though not the panacea for every current urban ill, urban greening nonetheless can significantly treat a great many of them and create a much more salutary and desirable environment in which to live.

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