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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Maximizing benefits of urban forest

Greening towns and cities with trees

by Rintos Mail, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on April 6, 2014, Sunday
Some of the imported tree species planted in the city area.
THE environment in Sarawak is still quite clean and healthy.
Basically, the state has laid a strong foundation for the overall task of preserving the forests as a healthy green place for future generations.
It has been able to perform better than any other producing countries in using forest resources as sources of revenue.
The private sector too has become more convinced that sustainable management has become a way of life in the timber industry — not just a form of management.
It is believed at least six big companies have adopted forests not as something to be exploited in the short-run but as a source of renewable resources which must be developed with long-term policies.
In the urban, the local councils have been tasked to not only organise tree-planting campaigns but also monitor and manage mature trees within their respective areas to promote public health.
For example, the Padawan Muncipal Council (MPP) will undertake to plant 46,050 trees between 2010 and end of this year.
But even before that, MPP had taken steps to ensure sufficient trees were planted in the open space under its jurisdiction.
MPP landscape division head Willie Ngelai said the council’s existing trees and new planting initiatives worked in tandem to make a better world.
He added that it was the state’s policy to make it compulsory for every housing estate to allocate at least 20 per cent of its area to planting trees.
He noted that under the national policy, any housing estate with 1,000 people must have at least two hectares of open space where trees can be planted within the area.
“Trees can be planted around the open space of the housing estate, including along jogging tracks and the roadside.
“Normally, the developers are required to plant trees in the open space provided for a housing estate. These trees are maintained by the developer for about a year before being handed over to the council,” he said.
Willie noted that so far, MPP was maintaining about 7,236 matured trees all over its area.
He said the types of trees planted were in accordance with MPP’s landscape masterplan, focusing on housing estates and roadsides.
He added that generally, large trees were planted along major roads where wide planting verges were provided, and in car parks, while smaller trees were planted along narrower roads such as in housing estates and along the driveways.
“We plant different types of trees in every land district to enable us to manage and maintain them properly.
“There are nine land districts in MPP and you can see different types of trees growing in every one of them at housing and commercial areas as well as open space.”
Willie said MPP did not simply cut down trees as this needed the State Secretary’s approval.
He pointed out that if MPP cut down one tree, it had to replace that tree with another tree.
“Normally, we plant more than we cut. There was even a time when we pulled a few trees from the site of a proposed development project and relocated them to a new nearby site at Mile 7.
“The council fully acknowledges the importance of trees to the environment and the people.”
He added that MPP believed policies and investments, aimed at protecting and managing trees in and around the urban, were needed to strengthen urban livelihood and improve urban environment as the state became increasingly urbanised.
He said as more people under MMP’s jurisdiction now lived in urban areas, the council had to pay more attention to managing and protecting urban and semi-urban forests and trees.
In view of climate change, it’s worrisome to see some local councils tending to destroy the last vestiges of farming and tree canopies.
Cities or towns, having lost their own green covers, are no longer models of future cities or towns as they need to catch up in the greening project.
And like other parts of the world, towns and cities in Sarawak will continue to experience rapid growth in  population and thus, these places must have a concrete plan to plant more trees for environmental preservation.
Trees are planted between the main roads within MPP area.
Maximizing benefits of urban forest
IT’S hard to imagine life without trees – whether we live in the city or countryside.
Trees provide shade on a hot day while the wood can be made into buildings, houses and objects —from chairs to broom sticks.
Trees are also homes for small animals like birds and squirrels. And many trees provide food for both people and animals as well.
Tree roots help lessen the chance of flooding in certain areas and can help clean the soil and the air by absorbing pollutants.
However, the most important reason why we need trees is that they help in the breathing process.
Human beings breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees do the opposite. They take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, the gas humans need to live.
According to data from the Northwest Territories Forest management website, 22 trees are required to produce the amount of oxygen consumed by one person. And an acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people.
The data also indicate a 100-feet tall tree with an 18-inch diameter at its base can produce 6,000 pounds of oxygen. However, the amount of oxygen, produced by a tree, also depends on its species, age, health and surroundings.
So, trees are making something we need to survive.
Just take some time to have a walk in the park, bite a juicy citrus, climb a wooden staircase and take a breath. Remember, you cannot do any of these things without trees.
The trees around us are extremely important and have always been necessary for improving the human condition — both during its life and after harvest.
Without trees, probably, humans may not exist on this planet.
Research has found the removal of tree canopy as part of urban infill may worsen health problems associated with climate change.
People living in an urban environment are especially susceptible to heat-related stresses as in Urban Heat Islands (UHIs), caused by reduction in vegetation, and increases in man-made surfaces can be created in built-up areas.
According to the research, the loss of tree canopy is a significant contributor to the creation of UHIs whose effects can be reduced by green spaces and vegetation.
Trees have been shown to provide multiple benefits to people and the environment, and international and national support for the retention and planning of urban trees is getting stronger nowadays.
The most important fact about trees is that they produce oxygen for all of us.
The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk) in 2011 reported the world’s forests were much more important than previously thought in absorbing CO2.
It pointed out that the University of Leeds research found forests absorb nearly 40 per cent of the 38 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide created by mankind every year.
The first study to look at all the world’s forests together found that established forests, from boreal forests in the north to tropical rainforests in the south, absorb 8.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
Scientists have worked out how much carbon is being absorbed by measuring the density of wood, height and width of different tree species over time.
According to a Reuters report in November last year, global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels was expected to rise to a record 39.683 billion tons by end of 2013.
The emission was generated by deforestation, vehicles, factories and other sources of fossil fuels.
The report by the Global Carbon Project, which compiles data from research institutes worldwide each year, was published in the journal Earth Systems Data Discussions, according to Reuter.
Its 2013 estimate represented a 2.1 per cent gain versus 2012 and a 61 per cent increase since 1990, the baseline year for the UN’s Kyoto Protocol, the only global agreement that places binding limits on national CO2 emission levels.
Emissions are increasing because strong growth in coal consumption has outweighed any reductions from the rapid growth in renewable energy in recent years, according to Glen Peters, an author of the report based at CICERO, a climate research institute in Norway.
Some of the trees within Samarahan District Council jurisdiction have their canopies removed.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/04/06/greening-towns-and-cities-with-trees/#ixzz2y6F0raxG

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