Promoting a new approach to Urban Forestry in Europe

  • Forests
  • European Commission
  • ItalyRomaniaIrelandNetherlandsSwedenSpain
  • 2021-2023
  • Facebook

  • Ersaf
    Etifor | Valuing Nature
    Forest Design Srl
    Trinity College Dublin
    Green City Watch

The problem

The megatrends are clear: by 2050, 84% of the European population will live in urban areas, while air pollution and climate change will continue to harm the health of European citizens. Despite minor improvements, pollution levels, that regularly exceed the European Union (EU) limits, and heatwaves, endanger the lives of young and elderly people. Urban Forests are effective solutions that help mitigate the effects of climate change by improving the quality of life and air in cities. The world’s major metropolises are planning urban forestry activities while struggling to cope with the costs of planting and management. But the education sector is not developing at the same pace: disciplines such as Urban Planning and Forestry have not yet succeeded in providing interdisciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship education. Topics such as urban forestry and nature-based solutions (NBS) are often left on the back burner. And it is precisely in this gap between demand and supply of training that the UFOREST project finds its place.

The project

UFOREST aims at promoting Europe’s innovation capacity among universities, cities and businesses to deliver a new approach to Urban Forestry (UF). It will do so by:

  • facilitating the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge among universities, local authorities, and business coming from four key interdisciplinary approaches that often are not cooperating: urban landscape planning, forest ecology, socio-economics and, information and communication technologies;
  • promoting a new, innovative and multidisciplinary global blended training course on UF for both students and professionals;
  • stimulating entrepreneurial attitude of students, researchers and professionals to provide public and private sectors with innovative and cost-effective UF solutions.

The project will focus on Italy, Spain, Romania, Ireland, Netherlands and Sweden. Results will have a strong EU-global dimension and transferability potential, capitalizing on existing national and international networks and through the partnership with the European Forest Institute, a leading European networking and research institution.

Our contribution

Our team will be involved in several cross-cutting activities of this project such as:

  1. Project coordination, management and technical support to;> Research, assessment and publication activities on innovation and entrepreneurship in UFOREST thematic sectors including: a) showcasing best practices, b) a report assessing innovation factors and c) an EU strategy and policy document> A specialised Urban Forestry innovation and entrepreneurship training programme (including practitioner workshops and business challenge)
  2. Setting up and financing the UFOREST Alliance supported by a tree-planting campaign;
  3. Project communication strategy and planning.

Goals achieved

The red thread of the project was training. The first edition of the online course ‘Nature in the city: turning knowledge into urban forestry practice‘ organised in Autumn 2022, was a great success, involving over 1000 participants from different parts of the world.

In September 2023, the Uforest Specialisation School involved 20 students for two intensive weeks to develop an urban forestry project in Barcelona. This forest will be planted in December 2023 at the first European Urban Forest Week to transform theory into practice. In addition to Barcelona, Dublin, Milan, and Brasov will also take part in this initiative, and four new urban forests will see the light of day.

One of the project’s first goals was to build a bridge between different institutions and form an alliance. There are 345 members of the Uforest Alliance from all five continents.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This text reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.