Growth rate of trees in the urban environment

Summary

Ecosystem service assessment tools, such as the i-Tree suite of tools, can use tree growth rate equations to calculate the ecosystem service provision of an urban forest over time.

This work investigates the differences in growth rates of four typical urban tree species located across five cities in Great Britain. Using dendrochronological and stable isotope analysis, this project aims to relate the variance in annual growth rates to changing environmental conditions such climate and air pollution, in an attempt to determine the level of impact that these factors may have on tree growth in urban settings. This information will then contribute to the improvement of carbon storage and sequestration models for urban trees.

Research objectives

Forest Research is:

  • assessing the growth rates for four common deciduous urban tree species
  • studying the relationship between the variance of growth rates across different cities and environmental conditions such as climate and air pollution
  • comparing mean annual growth rates with those currently used in models such as i-Tree eco, in order to improve the estimations of ecosystem service provision under Great Britain conditions.

Partners 

Dr Tom Levanic, from Slovenian Forestry Institute, is collaborating in the dendrochronological and stable isotope analysis.

Status

This research started in 2013 and is planned to finish in 2019.

Contact

Kieron Doick

Funders and partners

This work is funded by the Forestry Commission

Forestry Commission policy

Climate change represents a significant threat to urban infrastructure, environmental quality and the health of city dwellers. Green infrastructure is itself at risk through greater extremes in temperature fluctuation, consequent flourishing of tree pests and diseases, drought and perceived increased risk of subsidence leading to tree removal.

There is no clear system for determining the biophysical interactions, benefits, or managing potential trade-offs within a risk-benefit context, so as to optimally support the protection and sustainable regeneration of UK towns and cities. The Urban Trees and Greenspace in a Changing Climate Programme intends to develop such a system through consolidating and building upon existing work to provide the evidence base for urban trees, definition and communication of best practice guidance, and robust assessment, evaluation and dissemination tools so that the risks and benefits of urban tree placement can be more fully assessed by society, policy makers and planners.

The Programme also maintains the centre of excellence which FR has developed over several decades on land regeneration practices to establish and maintain urban greenspaces on former brownfield and contaminated sites.

Urban trees and greenspace in a changing climate