Rethinking Cityscapes through Urban Forest Integration
“When the forest and the city are functionally indistinguishable, then we know we have reached sustainability.” - Janine Benyus
This quote by writer and biologist Janine Benyus aptly sums up the true meaning of sustainable city design. She coined the term ‘biomimicry’, which is essentially innovation inspired by nature. In the modern living context, urban forests have evolved from being mere aesthetic additions to developments. With more cities facing the challenges of pollution, climate change and growing urbanisation, city planners are turning to urban forest integration.
The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2050, over 70% of the world’s people are expected to live in cities.1 These cities can be made more resilient and liveable through the strategic planting of trees, green spaces and natural elements within urban settings. This forward-thinking approach to sustainable city planning can have numerous ecological, social and economic benefits.
Benefits of Urban Forests
Urban Forests play a multifaceted role in enhancing the quality of life in cities, making it a pivotal part of sustainable urban planning. Environmental conservation, improving air quality, mitigating urban heat and fostering biodiversity are just a few benefits of urban forests. Urban forests contribute significantly to promoting mental well-being, a sense of community among residents and the creation of recreational spaces for both adults and children.
Adopting green infrastructure as one of the key strategies of sustainable urban living aids with climate change mitigation by soaking up carbon emissions. Urban forests manage stormwater and act as natural acoustic barriers to bring down noise pollution. Apart from their environmental impacts, integrating urban forests into modern developments adds to the overall aesthetics and helps boost property values as well. Urban forests are not just making your city a pleasant place to live in, they also keep you healthy.
Integration with Urban Design
As human beings, we are hardwired to find solace in connecting with nature. Hence it is crucial to establish a harmonious connection between the built environment and the natural one. The seamless integration of urban forests into the overall urban design calls for a deliberate and thoughtful approach. From the creation of parks and interconnected networks of urban green spaces to the implementation of green roofs, walls and roadside gardens, global cities have already embraced biophilic urban design.
Biophilic design is a building industry concept that aims to convert barren urban spaces into places that are restorative and conducive to life. An important part of such integration is to ensure that the lush expansive spaces, green pockets or treelined paths are strategically placed throughout the urban environment. Our city authorities should start considering nature as an essential infrastructure to invest in for building sustainable and happy cities.
Challenges of Urban Forest Integration
In dealing with limited space and conflicting city development priorities, sustainable urban planning must tackle challenges effectively. Finding the right area to establish green spaces amidst dense city infrastructure is challenging. Another obstacle is the growing demand for housing and commercial development. An innovative method to work with limited spaces is by incorporating vertical greenery, such as green walls or rooftop gardens.
Bringing about a balance between urban expansion and ecological preservation is paramount. Strategic urban planning ensures that the inclusion of green spaces is factored in right from the initial stages of development. For the successful integration of urban forests, there needs to be collaborative efforts by authorities, local communities and city planners.
In the dynamic landscape of evolving cities, urban forestry shapes our immediate surroundings and contributes to the well-being of both humanity and biodiversity. Forests and trees absorb nearly 40% of fossil fuel emissions largely produced by cities every year. This reinforces the pressing need for worldwide efforts to expand urban forests. One of the core values that is truly imbibed in the culture of Brigade Group is a genuine regard for the natural environment.
As part of this, the Group has taken up projects such as the restoration of lakes across Bengaluru, extensive water recycling at Brigade Gateway and the creation of a vertical garden at Brigade Opus. Brigade Group, in association with Vanatara Farms, created an urban forest at Brigade Cornerstone Utopia. The planting of 12,500 trees of different native species here is a resounding start of Whitefield’s neighbourhood urban forest.
Brigade Group is passionate about creating a healthier and serene living environment for all our residents. Check out our film on urban forests to understand more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1LPyhaTb0s&t=84s