TPBE3 Chair Alan Simson Reflects on Some of the Aims of the Conference

I think it was Ambrose Bierce who said a long time ago that

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know”.

Our relationship with trees, woodland, and landscape goes back a very long way but sometimes we forget this and assume that the whole subject area of what we are now doing is new.

What is new is that some 80% or more of us in the UK now live in urban areas of one sort or another and, for most of us, our only contact with trees is through the urban forest.

The urban forest is vital to the creation of a resilient urban future, and tree professionals know this well. How to convince sceptics and non-tree professionals is a question that continues to be posed.

A very reasonable approach is to develop systems of evaluation so that monetary values can be attributed to the benefits trees bring to the places we inhabit.  One cannot deny that having such data to hand has made some significant impact over recent years, helping us to achieve some political traction for urban forestry, as well as assisting in breaking down some of our “professional silos”.

As Edwards Deming said,

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”.

At TPBE3 we will explore the latest research and development in the field of urban forestry and emphasise the need for a trans-disciplinary approach which engages with public health and transport officials to create resilient urban futures.

I think I’d agree with Einstein when he said that

“not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.

We cannot rely alone on data but must persuade people of the importance of what we do – particularly when working with communities. There is a softer, more spiritual side to consider as well, especially when engaging with communities.

About the Author

Alan Simson Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Forestry
Professor Alan Simson
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Forestry
Leeds Beckett University
Kevin L. O'Hara. Professor of Silviculture. Environmental Science, Policy & Management

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