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Posts Tagged ‘heat island’

2020-07-20-karachi-forest-qureshi

Photo: Shahzad Qureshi
Shahzad Qureshi, founder of Urban Forest, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Today most people have come to realize the importance of trees for everything from reducing global warming to improving life in neighborhoods. The Amazon rain forest (currently in grave danger from Brazil’s government) is known to cool the planet by soaking up carbon in the atmosphere, and urban forests give city residents a chance to cool off — and calm down.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy, but around the world, more people are feeling they better do something themselves to protect trees.

Anna Kusmer reports at PRI’s The World, “Extreme heat often hovers over Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, creating insufferable conditions for its 16 million inhabitants. But each time Karachi resident Shahzad Qureshi transforms a barren patch of land into a dense, urban forest, he helps his city adapt to extreme urban heat that has become inevitable under climate change. Over the last four years, Qureshi’s organization, Urban Forest, has planted 14 urban forests in parks, schools, people’s yards and outside of a mosque.

“Qureshi’s quest to plant urban forests started in 2015, when temperatures reached over 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Karachi. About 2,000 people in the region died from dehydration and heatstroke. It was devastating.

‘It was just too hot,’ Qureshi said. …’ And one of the things everybody was talking about is that there’s not enough green cover.’

“Around that time, Qureshi saw a TED Talk that changed his life. He listened to a man named Shubhendu Sharma sharing a method to quickly grow dense urban forests. Qureshi was amazed. …

“Qureshi decided to learn Sharma’s technique and bring it to Karachi, joining a growing global community of urban foresters who want to help their cities adapt to extreme urban heat events created by rapid climate change. …

“Sharma’s organization Afforestt has now helped plant 150 mini-forests in 13 countries.

“ ‘So, there is a quite strong global community right now,’ Sharma said. ‘I am very keen on taking this method to every single country of the world.’

“Sharma’s special technique is known as the Miyawaki method. It involves the close placement of a variety of trees with different growing speeds and light requirements to prevent competition for the same resources. The approach specifically uses native species, allowing trees to thrive in their original climates and environments while supporting native bird and insect populations.

“ ‘Most of the city is roads and buildings and built-up urban area,’ said Nadeem Mirbahar, an ecologist with the Swiss International Union for Conservation of Nature Commission (IUCN) on Ecosystem Management, based in Karachi. His organization did a survey and found that only 7% of Karachi had green cover.

“This contributes to an ‘urban heat island’ effect, Mirbahar said. The phenomenon causes cities to be significantly hotter than the surrounding countryside. He thinks Karachi should strive for at least 25% green cover to avoid catastrophic heat events in the future.

“Qureshi’s oldest urban forest is four years old and already has towering, 35-foot-tall Acacia trees full of big, thorny branches and birds’ nests.

“ ‘I have seen bird species in this park, which I have not seen in my life,’ he said. ‘It’s a habitat for them.’ …

“Policymakers in Pakistan have started to look at planting trees as a solution to the urban heat threat, said Umer Akhlaq Malik, a policy analyst at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Pakistan.

“In 2016, the government launched a plan to plant hundreds of millions of trees as part of a project called ‘the Billion Tree Tsunami,’ in response to the fact that the country had fallen to a mere 2% forest cover.

“Malik said … ‘To take it to scale, you need more practitioners who invest their time and energy into this.’

“Malik said the biggest barriers are cost and space. Each forest can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to establish.

“But Qureshi remains hopeful that the project can scale up. He is working with the UNDP to form a coalition that aims to bring urban forests to every park in the city. He thinks Karachi could look fundamentally different.”

More at PRI, here.

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Photo: Ville de Paris/Apur/Céline Orsingher
The trees in this rendering of Paris’s Opera Garnier would take the place of an existing bus-parking area. Big ideas are necessary if the city is to meet its ambitious greening goals, part of the international Paris Agreement to tackle global warming.

A January article by Feargus O’Sullivan at CityLab, showed artist renderings like the one above as part of a plan to bring more trees into Paris. The announcement came before Notre Dame burned, so I hope plans are still going forward. Here is the concept.

“Some of Paris’s most treasured landmarks are set to host the city’s new ‘urban forests,’ ” writes O’Sullivan.

“Thickets of trees will soon appear in what today are pockets of concrete next to landmark locations, including the Hôtel de Ville, Paris’s city hall; the Opera Garnier, Paris’s main opera house; the Gare de Lyon; and along the Seine quayside.

“The new plantings are part of a plan to create ‘islands of freshness’—green spaces that moderate the city’s heat island effect. It also falls into an overall drive to convert Paris’s surface ‘from mineral to vegetal,’ introducing soil into architectural set-piece locations that have been kept bare historically. As a result, the plan will not just increase greenery, but may also provoke some modest rethinking of the way Paris frames its architectural heritage. …

“[Such plans] are necessary if Paris is to meet its ambitious greening goals. By 2030, city hall wants to have 50 percent of the city covered by fully porous, planted areas, a category that can include anything from new parkland to green roofs. ..

“The city imagines turning the square in front of city hall into a pine grove, while future springtimes will see the opera house’s back elevation emerge from a sea of cherry blossom. The paved plaza at the side of the Gare de Lyon will become a woodland garden, while one of the two former car lanes running along the now pedestrianized Seine quays will be taken over by grass and shrubs.

“Such plans will require more than sticking saplings in the ground. Creating the new opera house cherry orchard will mean displacing a current parking lot used by tourist buses, a process that the city plans to repeat elsewhere. …

“Intriguingly, the urban forest plans are a slightly different take on the classic Parisian aesthetic. Sites like the areas around the opera and Hôtel de Ville don’t need beautifying — they are already grand, charismatic showcases for the elaborate, even fanciful historic buildings that they host.

“In the past, however, they have been left bare, or at most … fringed with small lines of trees that have been rigorously pruned and trained until they form a narrow, wall-like rampart. …

“Given how charming the designs appear, this seems unlikely to be controversial, but it does suggest a more rustic, quasi-natural approach to greenery than has previously been the rule in Paris.”

There is more information here. And maybe when blogger A Pierman Sister returns to Paris, we will get an eye-witness account of the city’s progress on its plans.

 

 

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