Trees and urban forests mitigate heat-stress, purify air, and provide multiple other ecosystem services. They are often referred as the Green Lungs of city. However, urban trees and forests could be vulnerable to climate change impacts such as drought, heatwaves etc. Pollution from motor vehicles and other sources, mechanical damage from human activities could assert additional stresses on plants’ health and physiological activities.
In addition, rapid urbanization in growing cities (e.g. Karlsruhe) poses new challenge to maintain a sustainable green cover and healthy population of plants inside or near cities. In this context; increasing the awareness of citizens and involving civil society organizations and city administrations are vital for maintaining a green city with healthy trees and forests. There is an urgent need to develop an adaptation planning system for management of single trees and forested areas in urban region based on scientific evidence.
The aim of the BMBF Zukunftsstadt (“Future City”) project which was funded with 1.41 million Euro is to assess the ecological, social and economic resilience of urban tree species and forests by applying trans- and interdisciplinary approaches in urban regions of City Karlsruhe and City Rheinstetten. The project will be carried out by a transdisciplinary consortium in which ITAS has the leadership. Communal partners are the Cities of Karlsruhe and Rheinstetten; scientific partners, both located in Freiburg, are the Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg (FVA) and the Research Centre Human Biometeorology (ZMMF) of the German Weather Service.
Together with FVA we will study the impacts of droughts, heatwaves, and pollution on the vitality of trees using dendroecological and ecophysiological approaches. In addition we will assess the potential of different tree species and forest types to mitigate heat stress in urban areas. For this purpose the ZMMF will carry out measurements and model calculations. Grounded on data obtained from these on-site measurements and from other data sources we will valuate multiple ecosystem services from urban trees and forests and develop strategies to reduce trade-offs between different types of ecosystem services.
We will apply transdisciplinary methods (e.g. Real World Lab “District Future – Urban Lab” of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) to increase the public awareness on the importance of a green city with healthy population of plants.