CIRIA welcomed delegates to the Trees in the built environment event on March 15th, which coincided with Climate Week and the launch of the new CIRIA publication, The benefits of large species trees in urban landscapes: a costing, design and management guide (C712). With the upcoming Rio +20 conference and ongoing discussions about sustainability, this event was a timely reminder of the importance of green infrastructure.
Mark Job from Arup kicked off the afternoon by giving an in-depth report on the impact of trees - and especially large trees, on climate temperature, health and wellbeing, flood risks and even house prices. Mark went on to describe the current situation which has seen the growing popularity of so-called “lollipop” trees or single trees. He added that the benefits of large trees far outweighed the supposed negatives. Large trees, especially in urban areas, reduce temperatures and can protect concrete and paving stones by shielding surfaces from the rays of the sun. Ascetically, large trees can create a more picturesque view and can even push up house prices on the streets in which they are planted. Studies show that large trees (particularly forest trees) can even help to improve recovery rates of hospital patients when they are surrounded by them.
Given the clear social and climatic benefits of large trees, he recommended that firms plan for the planting of large trees in advance. Mark added that it was imperative to: “Select the right tree from the outset but also protect and retain existing forest trees.”
Following Mark was Peter Massini from the GLA who gave an insight into the policy ramifications of large trees. He noted that: “We don’t have the same approach to green infrastructure in the way that we have with other infrastructure networks like drains and roads.”
Dean Bowie, CEO of Greenleaf, the urban tree pit design company, gave a run down of various issues that come up when architects plan for trees. He highlighted the importance of space, aeration and soil volume for trees and their roots to thrive. Joanne Kwan, rounded up the event by summarising the key points and giving an overview of the new CIRIA guidance.
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