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This subject imparts detailed knowledge on the crucial role that urban forests are playing in the development and resilience of sustainable cities around the world, using both local and international case studies. It begins by exploring the unique composition of urban forests, and the multiple social and ecological drivers that shape them in the context of global environmental change. This includes extreme biotic and abiotic stressors, such as changing pests and pathogens, fundamental plant physiology principles of drought, heat, light and pollution tolerance. The benefits that the urban forest generate for fauna habitat and biodiversity, human health and wellbeing, nature connectedness, microclimate cooling, and improved hydrology and water quality are discussed and analysed in detail. Finally, the subject brings these themes together through an urban landscape management lens to explore practical approaches to building our future urban forests through remote sensing, modelling ecosystem service values, and community engagement and participation. A central theme will be planning and managing urban forests for environmental equity, multiple social values and ecological outcomes in a contested urban landscape.
Intended learning outcomes
Students completing this subject should be able to:
- Describe the composition and structure of an urban forest, and identify important biogeographical, bioclimatic, demographic and cultural factors shaping urban forests globally;
- Analyse the role of biotic and abiotic stressors on urban tree health and function and how these shape tree selection under past and future urban climates and management regimes;
- Critically compare and assess the various social, ecological and ecosystem service benefits the urban forest is claimed to provide;
- Develop a community engagement and urban forest management plan to improve the long-term social and ecological functioning of an urban landscape.
In addition to learning specific skills that will assist students in their future careers in science, they will have the opportunity to develop generic skills that will assist them in any future career path. These include:
- Apply ecological principles to help mitigate climate change and society challenges in our cities;
- Assess data quality, then collate, analyse and synthesise quantitative and qualitative data to understand and communicate complex issues;
- Inter-personal skills needed to work effectively in teams, through clear communication, listening, reflection and compromise;
- Application of a socio-ecological (systems) approach to diagnose and solve complex problems and make management decisions;
- Communication to, and engagement with, multiple stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and levels of scientific understanding.
Last updated: 20 February 2024