TPBE II Review: Two useful days for a forestry or arboriculture student
Iain Hannah, Arboriculture Student
On the 2nd and 3rd of April 2014 the Institute of Chartered Foresters held the second in their series of conferences on “Trees, People and the Built Environment”. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend as a result of the generosity of Barcham Trees, which provided a number of sponsored student tickets.
Over the two days of the conference an impressive array of speakers was scheduled, providing an opportunity to hear the very latest thinking and results of research from experts on all aspects of trees in the built environment. This included leading scientists, not just from the fields of forestry and arboriculture science, but also social sciences, economics and environmental science, as well as a range of professionals from the fields of architecture, civil engineering and Government. The diversity of the speakers and topics covered, highlights both the multi-disciplinary approach required to understand the benefits that trees can provide, and the need to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and decision makers to ensure those benefits are realised.
Climatic and Human Issues Addressed
The timing of the conference helps to highlight the importance of the opportunity available; occurring as the Somerset Levels continue their recovery from terrible flooding; the same week as the IPCC issued its Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report; overlapping with several days of record air pollution in parts of England; and coinciding with the launch of Birmingham as the first biophilic city in the UK. Presentations, discussions and research findings helped to detail the evidence of the many benefits of trees, including sequestration of carbon, improvement of urban air quality, regulation of urban temperatures, regulation of water drainage and quality, and reduction of noise pollution. For many people, trees are also an aesthetic enhancement of the urban environment, and pioneering research is now indicating there may also be a bonus of improved human health from greening of the urban environment. The NHS Forest in the UK is just one example of the practical measures being taken to capitalise on this potential. Many skilled scientists are now undertaking research to identify the aspects of human health that may benefit and to understand the mechanisms by which they occur; findings from this leading-edge scientific research may yield results in time to be shared at TPBE III.
Intensive Immersion in Urban Forestry
As well as the impressive list of presenters the conference also provided an excellent opportunity to network with other delegates, including a chance to discuss many of the core themes of the conference with fellow students, arboriculture and forestry practitioners, and decision makers involved in local Government or agencies like the Forestry Commission. The two days provided an intensive immersion in the latest urban forestry ideas, an opportunity to make invaluable network contacts, and a healthy dose of inspiration that delegates can use to help them push forward initiatives, in cities all over the World, to realise the immense potential of trees in the urban environment.