Urban green infrastructure and Community forests meetings

Kath recently attended the CIEEM spring conference, “Mainstreaming biodiversity into future cities” on 22nd March and the England’s Community Forests Conference 23rd March. Both were highly informative and provided some great networking opportunities. A short summary of each follows.

CIEEM spring conference: “Mainstreaming biodiversity into future cities

This conference explored the wider benefits of including biodiversity in designing and planning our sustainable cities of the future. Speakers covered the business case for urban biodiversity and how conflicts can be resolved, as well as how architects, engineers, landscape designers and ecologists can work together to deliver biodiverse urban environments.

Marc Barra, Naturparif, talked about green infrastructure in Paris, which has a huge network of green roofs and artificial homes for birds, bats and insects. French law bans pesticides in public spaces, which is great news for urban pollinators as well as people.

Tom Butterworth, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, issued an invitation to talk “Biodiversity in the City” and contribute to an ongoing white paper consultation on “Biodiversity Net Gain: A new role for infrastructure and development in improving Britain’s wildlife”. Wacky ideas welcome!

Mike Wells, Biodiversity by Design Ltd, gave a packed presentation about eco-psychology and the benefits of incorporating biophilic design into cities, rather than just ‘greening’ the cities which has no real functional benefit.

Jeremy Jones, Atkins, discussed the many challenges around planning agreements for green infrastructure, but reminded us that we should embrace these challenges and find a way to get the agreements.

Eleanor Atkins, Staffordshire University, gave a great talk about measuring the biodiversity of urban hedges. Using some very novel equipment she recorded a surprising array of mammals and birds utilising most of the hedges in her study.


England’s Community Forests Conference

This was a great insight into the Community Forest programme, comprising 12 forests across England. The numerous achievements of those forests were celebrated, including creating over 10,000 acres of new woodland and engaging hundreds of thousands of people in improving their local areas.

Fiona Williams, Defra, highlighted the Government’s ambition to be the first generation to leave England in a better state than we found it. To achieve this the Government intends to produce a 25 year plan for the environment, which will provide an opportunity to tailor environmental legislation to UK needs.

Matt Larson Daw, Woodland Trust, introduced us to the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People, which will recognise, celebrate and protect our right to the many benefits brought by trees and woods. You can sign the charter here.