World Forum on Urban Forests 2023

30 November 2023 3 minute read

Roddy Shaw on the right, CEO Kate Sheldon fifth in from right, with the other global partners of the Tree Cities of the World programme

In October, Roddy Shaw, Development Manager at Trees for Cities, and CEO Kate Sheldon attended the World Forum of Urban Forests 2023, presenting the work we’ve done in coastal towns and cities, as well as our Tree Cities of the World scheme. Roddy shares his experience of the event, and why there is so much value in a worldwide discussion on urban forestry.

The theme of the forum this year was Greener, Healthier and Happier Cities for All, which is something we’ve been proudly advocating at Trees for Cities for 30 years. Our campaign Urban Trees For All, By All highlights the importance of working with local communities to create healthier environments for people to live in.

Showcasing forgotten places

Speaking on our recent work, CEO Kate Sheldon presented Trees for Cities’ Forgotten Places programme. Coastal communities around the UK have much lower tree cover than their inland counterparts, so we’ve worked closely with the community and partner organisations in Bexhill, East Sussex to deliver community planting days alongside a package of strategic documents to support the town in developing their urban tree cover.

This is one of seven locations where we’ve piloted our coastal work, with plans to grow this programme to include more coastal areas who may need extra support to help combat the effects of climate change.

CEO Kate Sheldon presenting our Forgotten Places programme

Inspiring Future Tree Cities of the World

Trees for Cities is the UK national lead organisation for the global Tree Cities of the World programme - an initiative developed by the UN FAO and Arbor Day Foundation to recognise and inspire towns and cities to care for and celebrate their urban tree canopy.

With 21 recognised Tree Cities of the World in the UK, I spoke on the experience of growing this programme across the country, and the role of national NGOs in supporting local partners with urban forestry.

A key topic discussed was the need to build understanding in the public and policy spheres that taking care of existing trees is just as crucial as planting new ones. With summers in the UK getting ever hotter, trees require substantial maintenance packages to ensure they establish correctly and grow to deliver the many benefits mature trees provide.

Roddy Shaw on a panel with Ana Macias from Arbocity and Ernesto Hererra from Reforestamos México

Working together

The warming climate was a reoccurring narrative throughout the Forum, highlighting especially the impact this can have on our most vulnerable urban communities. This conference provided the opportunity to learn about how other cities were approaching climate challenges, and to share ideas on how to support urban forests in various environments.

Myself and Kate were honoured to present alongside other changemakers in the world of urban forestry, and take part in a conversation that Trees for Cities has championed for so long in our own projects - always working to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place and deliver urban trees for all, by all.

Interested in becoming a Tree City of the World?
2023 applications are now open!

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