On Wednesday this week, Fruktsam joined a workshop in Hässleholm about urban trees, organised by SLU’s think tank Movium to learn about urban trees and to find out how much scientists and municipalities take fruit trees into account.
Speakers Johan Östberg and Bengt Persson, both from the SLU, explained the contributions of urban trees. Not only do urban trees look nice but they work as little rainwater cleaning-systems, they increase the value of properties leading to more tax-revenue and they save energy during the summers because they exclude some of the sunlight so that our homes don’t get too hot.
What they want to do is develop the management of urban trees within a big two-year project. Comparing to New York, which has a million tree project and data showing the entire tree population of the city, Sweden is not collecting even basic data in these kinds of systems. The usefulness of knowing what types of trees, what condition they are in and what kind of variation is being created is invaluable to planning with the wider picture in mind.
Most interestingly to us was the mention of dialogue with citizens. A good dialogue and participation means people feel responsible for the trees, there is a decrease in vandalism on the trees and it holds great PR value for whoever is running the project. Many participants mentioned the value of an interactive system to map trees in order to get a good overview of what needs to be done to them. We see this mapping as an opportunity to not only involve the professionals but also citizens! Although mapping “normal” trees might not be so interesting to the large majority, many more might be interested in mapping fruit trees. We have seen great interest so far within our own project and the similar projects that exist around the world (we will come back to these in another blog entry).
We spoke to Sölvesborgs kommun who have acknowledged their citizen’s call for more fruit trees. In Ljungaviken, a new area, they have both open up a forested area with fruit trees and planted more. Maybe worth a future study visit if there is interest?
All in all we felt there was a real interest in Fruktsam as a way of working and involving people. And we learned a lot about the difficulties that occur when trying to establish trees in urban areas where they have to compete with roads and cables underground. The urban trees are, comparatively, cheap to plant but very expensive to care for. It shows the complexity of the system and that we need innovative ways of dealing with the urban trees so that they provide a wide variety of values and are made to last.
Have a very fruitful day!