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Tree establishment practice in towns and cities – Results from a European survey

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A working group within the European Union funded COST Action E12, “Urban Forests and Trees”, carried out a survey between 1999 and 2001 to study current tree establishment practice in European towns and cities. An extensive questionnaire requesting information on the urban area, selection of tree species, establishment and aftercare practices and the main damaging factors was sent to tree professionals in urban areas in each of 17 countries.

Indicators such as the relationship between the urban population and the number of street trees were used to compare urban areas. While most central European cities have a ratio of 50–80 street trees per 1000 inhabitants, the tree density was as low as 20 street trees per 1000 inhabitants for Nice. Often only a few species are planted and this may give cause for concern, since species diversity is considered an important factor in increasing the resilience of the urban tree population to abiotic and biotic stresses.

The planting of larger street trees of 20–30 cm circumference, usually with hessian-wrapped rootballs, is becoming increasingly common practice. However, some countries report the use of mostly bare-rooted stock of much smaller trees (less than 12 cm circumference). Establishment costs for street trees range from less than 200 Euro to over 1500 Euro each. Poor site conditions, and impacts such as utility trenching are considered to be major restrictions to healthy tree life. Vandalism affects up to 30%

of newly planted street trees in some towns and cities.

Overall, the survey reveals large differences in tree establishment and management practices among European cities. There is a need to provide urban tree managers with guidance on good practice for tree selection and establishment based on empirical information. The survey was a first step towards collecting the necessary urban forest information from across Europe.

Keywords: Urban forestry; quality standards; street trees; tree management; tree planting; tree selection; urban woodlands

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: CURE Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K 2: National Urban Forestry Unit, The Science Park, Wolverhampton, U.K 3: Dirección General de Investigación Servicio de Seguimiento, Madrid, Spain 4: Instituto Tecnológico de Dessarrollo Agrario (ITDA), Consejeria de Medio Ambiente, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid, Spain 5: National Institute for Horticulture (INH), Angers, France 6: INRA/CR ANGERS, Beaucouze, France 7: Faculté des sciences agronomiques de Gembloux, Horticulture générale, Gembloux, Belgium 8: Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute, Hoersholm, Denmark

Publication date: 2002-12-01

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