Travel broadens the mind, and nearly two months studying the place of trees in Australian and New Zealand urban landscapes has been invaluable in developing understanding on this subject. ‘Down under’, the need for a strategic approach to tree management in the face of climate change, an aging tree population and urban heating appears to be well embedded into town/city policies. As a result, there are several functioning strategies in place and even a strategy for producing an urban forest strategy – download HERE. Christchurch, now showing good progress in emerging from the devastating 2012 earthquake, remains wedded to its description as a ‘garden city’, which apparently predates its use in Letchworth and Welwyn. And Melbourne is convincing as a beacon of ambition for the maintenance and increase of the city tree canopy: a “city within a forest rather than a forest within a city”. Other NZ cities show how it IS possible to marry a significant tree density with the usual constraints posed by engineering and transportation, even encouraging personal street tree planting by residents.
Britain’s urban forestry movement is currently undergoing something of a crisis of confidence with some towns and cities seemingly intent on relegating the role of trees whilst others are positively embracing the goods and services they offer. Experience in the southern hemisphere would seem invaluable for those seeking to influence decision makers in British local authorities. Andy Moffat will continue to work in both hemispheres and will be promoting cross-fertilisation of ideas as an active campaign.