Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Urban plants' role as carbon sinks 'underestimated'

So says the report from the BBC. From the story:

In this study, the researchers used information from satellite data and from field research to survey the amount of vegetation across Leicester - a city with a population of about 300,000 people. The assessment included domestic gardens, public spaces, road verges and derelict industrial land.

The team estimated that 231,000 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 3.16kg per square metre, was locked away in the city's vegetation - most of which was stored by trees. "Large trees are particularly important carbon stores," said lead author Zoe Davies from the University of Kent. "Most of the publicly owned land across Leicester is grassland. "If just 10% of this was planted with trees, the existing carbon pool across the city could be increased by 12%."

All the more reason to have urban agriculture and forestry plans, and to encourage "more productive" use of planting strips and the odd bits and pieces of public land across the city, managing the land (and roofs) as part of carbon dioxide reduction management.

Over the weekend we were in Cambridge, Maryland, and spied a peach tree in a cemetery. The birds and bees were having a field day with the peaches, and many had already fallen off the tree. We picked quite a few and they are tasty. Similarly, at the "beach" in Oxford, there is one sole tree which happens to be a plum tree. The plums were tasty too...

Why can't we include fruit and nut trees as part of an urban forestry and agriculture plan?

-- City Farmer, Planning Policy and Urban Agriculture
-- Fallen Fruit
-- Home Orchard Society
-- Stella Otto, author of The Backyard Orchardist and The Backyard Berry Book
-- Urban Agriculture Policy Plan - City of Minneapolis
-- Urban Orchards project, Earthworks, Boston
-- "Urban orchards taking root in St. Louis," St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Plus, fallen trees can be milled and the wood used in various applications, as well as for firewood.

-- "City Bench Comes to New Haven," New York Times, about a company that harvests urban wood and makes furniture from it, City Bench website
-- "Oakland: Mill harvests the urban forest," San Francisco Chronicle (it's possible this organization is no longer in business)
-- Urban Hardwood Recovery, Greater Portland, Oregon

Tomatoes growing in a planting box on the 200 block of 4th Street SE
Tomatoes growing in a planting box on the 200 block of 4th Street SE, DC. This photo is from last year, but the people are growing tomatoes, basil, and maybe beans this year as well.

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