Keynote Session Speakers for International Urban Trees Conference Announced

Professor Cecil Konijnendijk

With urban forestry high on the political and social agenda, the first keynote session speakers for the UK’s foremost international urban trees research conference are confirmed, highlighting the critical importance of creating resilient towns and cities for the 21st Century and beyond.

More than 50% of the world’s population now live in cities which are exposed to a host of challenges that those who design and plan for the future need to take on board. Trees, People and the Built Environment 4 addresses how urban forestry is integral to the development of towns and cities as places where people want to live, work and play and how the use of trees can bring wellbeing benefits and help to reduce the urban carbon footprint.

Yvonne Lynch
Yvonne Lynch

Yvonne Lynch, a climate resilience strategist who advises governments internationally on urban greening, will talk about shifting perspectives on urban design and planning away from the traditional approaches that have dominated for over a century and how to move them towards a nature sensitive urban design model.

In her presentation, Growing Greener Cities, she will discuss the critical role of urban forests in transitioning cities from being in a state of social and climate vulnerability towards resilience using Melbourne in Australia and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia as examples. She will also look at how to achieve longevity in policy outcomes and how to accelerate implementation of urban greening and urban forestry programmes.

Yvonne is known for her work in Melbourne, Australia, where she established and led the city’s Urban Forest and Ecology team, developing an ‘email a tree’ programme and getting thousands of residents involved in greening and biodiversity activities. She is currently a strategic advisor for Green Riyadh with the Riyadh Development Authority in Saudi Arabia. The programme aims to create 3,300 new parks and gardens, and to plant 7.5 million trees by 2030.

Ian Bateman, Professor of Environmental Economics and Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) at the University of Exeter Business School, will give an overview of the natural capital approach to decision making and how it is the ideal framework for capturing the multitude of values generated by trees and woodland.

He will explain how a natural capital solution provides the basis for a wide array of benefits relating to recreation, physical and mental health, greenhouse gas sequestration, water quality, and habitat for wild species, as well as timber values. His presentation will also show that when compared to the values of agricultural or similar land uses, such approaches to planting deliver highly substantial net benefits to both society and taxpayers.

Ian has a wide array of research interests revolving around the issue of ensuring sustainable wellbeing through the integration of natural and social science knowledge within decision making and policy. Particular interests lie in the fields of quantitative analysis, integrated modelling and the valuation of non-market benefits and cost. He has been or is advisor or consultant to: Defra, DfT, DoH, NICE, OECD and numerous other bodies.

Other confirmed speakers include Professor Suzanne Simard, Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia, and Nadinè Galle, co-founder of Green City Watch, an award-winning geoAI platform for the near real-time monitoring of urban nature.

Professor Cecil Konijnendijk
Professor Cecil Konijnendijk

Conference Chair Cecil Konijnendijk, Professor of Urban Forestry at the University of British Columbia and a specialist on the role of trees and green space in cities and towns, said: “With the impacts of climate change becoming increasingly detrimental, we urgently have to make our cities more resilient.”

“The urban forest has a crucial role to play in building resilient and sustainable cities. Progress towards this will be in focus at TPBE4 where delegates will be able to hear global leaders in urban forestry and sustainable urban development share their research and experience. The conference will also actively engage with participants to identify and discuss some of the Big Ideas that can help build greener and better cities,” he explained.

The 2020 conference at the University of Birmingham on 22 and 23 of April, is an important academic gathering for professionals from across the world in a range of disciplines in both social and natural sciences.
TPBE4 is hosted and organised by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) on behalf of a group of partner organisations.

For further information and booking visit:

Follow us @TheICF #TPBE4


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