first_imgCity planners need to plant more trees in urban areas, but the benefits go beyond beautifying pavement.Urban areas occupy 4% of the land surface of the planet, says Theodore A. Endreny in a Comment article in Nature Communications. That may strike readers as surprising, given most people’s attention to cities for work, travel and home. But since so many spend the majority of their time there, it’s incumbent upon city planners to bring some of the natural world into urban environments for what Endreny calls the “ecosystem services” they provide.Growth in urban populations creates opportunities for urban forests to deliver ecosystem services critical to human wellbeing and biodiversity. Our challenge is to strategically expand urban forests and provide our international communities, particularly the vulnerable, with healthier, happier, and enriched lives.Trees are too often removed for urbanization, well captured by Joni Mitchell’s lyrics “They paved paradise. And put up a parking lot.” Urban areas globally will expand to accommodate population growth and migration trends. Yet, urban denizens benefit greatly with trees in their habitat, and that is the theme of the 2018 International Day of Forests; Forests and Sustainable Cities. Urban areas can concentrate poverty and sickness, and trees can help alleviate these ills through their ecosystem services. Our global challenge is to grow urban forests and sustain human wellbeing and biodiversity.What does he mean by “human… biodiversity”? Endreny finds it in “shared spaces that enhance mixing of community across ages, cultures, and incomes.” Trees produce a modicum of peace in the hearts of those who live among them. At the very least, it may be harder to throw Molotov cocktails with tree limbs in the way.This spot could use a few trees.He offers some statistics to show what city dwellers are missing. Even though urban areas make up only 4% of the land surface, if planted at global average tree density, they could contain 121 billion trees. The actual tree count in urban forests is about <10 billion trees, just 8% of their land area’s tree-carrying potential. What can be done? City parks certainly help, but the “urban forest” could expand to rooftops, pocket parks, street trees, nurseries and riparian corridors.Speaking of river courses, Los Angeles has made some effort to restore parts of the L.A. River with trees and bike trails, but much of it still consists of long, ugly, graffiti-laden concrete channels. Urban planners should consider whether the same services of flood control could have been provided by a tree-lined natural watercourse. Almost every year, people or animals fall into the concrete washes during floods and drown. Concrete, too, channels all the pollutants from millions of homes and office buildings out to the sea. Wouldn’t a botanical ecosystem do a better job of filtration? If mangrove forests can tame the violence of tsunamis in the far east, couldn’t the right kind of riparian forests tame the occasional urban floods?What exactly are the “ecosystem services” that trees can provide to denizens of the urban forest? Endreny classifies them as:Cultural (e.g., spiritual, recreational)Provisioning (e.g., food, fiber, water)Regulating (e.g., climate and flood control)Supporting (e.g., pollination, soil formation)Trees can reduce the temperature of inner cities with their shade and transpiration. They can reduce noise. They can filter water. Think of all the ways that a tree can be a blessing to a city dweller walking in a concrete jungle, or looking out an office window. Endreny estimates $2.25 return for every $1 spent on planting trees. The poor may benefit the most: “Urban forest services are invaluable for the vulnerable and low capacity residents without food, water, and energy security, who can find in these forests nutrition, clean water, wood fuel, and shelter, as well as jobs and a sense of purpose.”City trees can mask noise and filter pollution. They take the edge off city blight.With all the government money going to healthcare and other priorities, why not invest more in items that give back more than they consume? He gives some figures on what tree-planting has done to benefit some major cities. Direct results, he figures, are double the expense. “With money effectively growing on trees, what could slow growth of the urban forest?”Not to overstate his argument for trees, Endreny considers potential “ecosystem disservices” they might engender: accidents, allergens, obstructing views, inviting pests or exotic species, and just the initial investment costs of planting and maintaining them. “Yet where there are threats,” he says, “there are opportunities.” Each of these threats can be managed with appropriate design. He sees a bright future in engineering the urban forest.A virtuous cycle is possible for extending urban forests, with benefits paying for management, and new forests advancing research to maximize services and minimize disservices. The field of urban forestry will grow with that of urban science, which is poised to grow rapidly, generating discoveries at the social-ecological system nexus critical to sustainability. Linking urban forestry to ecological engineering provides an opportunity to focus on building with nature to achieve renewably powered and systems-based self-designs that satisfy human needs and advance ecosystem conservation…. Exciting discoveries will emerge in urban forestry as we manage these threats and pursue these opportunities.This doesn’t have to be a top-down program. Individual citizens can take part, making it a “leaderless movement” to improve the urban ecosystem. Citizens can inventory the trees in their urban forests, learn about the benefits of various tree species, and locate new places for planting. Individuals can also be quite vocal in protecting their favorite trees.We need to tell the stories of success from communities across the globe, where fruit harvests supply food banks in Seattle USA, greenbelts treat wastewater and combat desertification in Ouarzazate, Morocco, toxic soils are cleansed by trees in Guangxi, China, urban temperatures and poverty are reduced with forest stands in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, tree nurseries purify drinking water and generate wood fuel for the needy in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and children in an impoverished school are nurtured by a tree garden irrigated with gray-water within the desert landscape of Lima, Peru.Does Endreny overstate the case in his last sentence? “These achievements are grassroots, wholesome, and empowering, and ensure that trees will not be relegated to a museum.” Unquestionably, if urban areas only take up 4% of the land areas. But then, who doesn’t love the appearance of a healthy, tall, green tree along a city boulevard?Update 3/26/18: For another article on the urban forest, see “How tree bonds can help preserve the urban forest” on The Conversation. Four authors consider ways to fund more tree planting in cities.Update 3/26/18: In his daily Breakpoint commentary for March 22, John Stonestreet wrote about “talking trees,” concluding that “naturalism has no language of wonder.”Exercise: Take notice of the “urban forest” in your city on your way to work. Imagine the trees erased from the scene. Would it make a difference to your sense of well-being? Could your city do better with tree planting?Isn’t it just like God to make things that give more than they receive? I recently marveled at a tree I regretfully had to remove (I did get some firewood and mulch from it). All those strong limbs, leaves, and light-harvesting machines arose from dirt! A little seed that had started that tree growing years ago contained all the program code to take ingredients from dirt and transform them into a massive, glorious living thing, operated on by machines at the cellular level more complex than biochemists can fathom. Plant a pebble in the dirt and it won’t do that. What amazing and beautiful objects God has given us in trees. They provide object lessons instructing us that we, too, should contribute more than we consume. Do human beings need trees? It’s noteworthy that one of the most joyful holidays in Israel from the time of Moses that continues to this day is to build outdoor booths with leafy branches of trees and live in them for a week. It’s as if the Creator wanted to help fallen humanity get out of their artificial worlds and take a look at the glories outside at least once a year. Better yet, leave the city once in awhile and actually walk or drive through a natural forest.An urban forest had historical significance in one particular city. It provided palm branches for people to welcome the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem as they shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21). Happy Palm Sunday to all our CEH readers! (Visited 324 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img28 October 2009The South African government aims to save over R27-billion a year by cutting down on wastage and slashing inefficient spending.Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the first set of savings proposals, for the 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, would involve a R14.5-billion saving at national government level and a R12.6-billion saving at a provincial level.The savings relate mostly to expenditure on non-core goods and services.The steps follow the setting up of a ministerial task team to look into ways in which the government can achieve more with less resources.The task team is headed by Gordhan and includes Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi and the minister in the Presidency responsible for monitoring and evaluation, Collins Chabane.Reducing administrative spendingThe biggest savings are expected to come from reducing administrative spending in departments, which are expected to save the government around R2-billion a year.The government is expected to save about R1.5-billion a year on social development, as a result of increased collections from wrongly paid or overpaid grant beneficiaries, an adjustment of the means test, and as a result of a slower than anticipated uptake of social grants from the extension of the child support grant to 15-year-olds.The government is also expected to save R1.4-billion a year from the Department of Defence and Military Veterans. Some savings have also been realised on the department’s procurement programme, as a result of a more favourable exchange rate.The Department of Trade and Industry is set to save R700-million a year, largely as a result of reductions in transfers and subsidies of certain projects.A further R700-million should also be saved through the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, mainly as a result of a revised foreign exchange rate.Three-phase cost-cuttingThe government’s cost-cutting exercise will involve three phases.The first phase involves changing spending habits, such as cutting costs on unnecessary spending – targeting areas such as consultants, entertainment, travel, luxuries and conferences.Phase two will look at back-office operations to frontline services and reform procurement processes.The third phase will involve a comprehensive expenditure review which will reshape the way in which South Africa’s public services are delivered and resources allocated.Non-performers to be axedIn the latter two phases, the government is expected to terminate non-performing programmes, projects and even entities.The Presidency will conduct a review, together with the National Treasury, of which programmes are working and whether the same services can be delivered at more affordable costs.A review of the ministerial handbook will also take place.A selection of potential saving areas for investigation in the medium term is expected to be finalised by December 2009, while the first set of investigations and recommendations will be completed by March 2010.The review may see spending increase in certain areas, for instance boosting spending on quality education.Crackdown on tender fraudThe government will also crack down on tender fraud to reduce wastage.A working group comprising members of the National Treasury, SA Revenue Service, Financial Intelligence Centre, Auditor-General and police Special Investigations Unit has been set up to look into whether there are leakages in the country’s procurement system, or weak management, causing cost escalations.The working group will report to the minister of finance.The government has already acknowledged that there are some leakages in the government feeding scheme, school construction, and the procurement of office equipment and other goods and services.Intense work has been carried out over the past six weeks to improve compliance with state supply chain management policies and procedures, and a large number of public officials have been identified as suspects in defrauding the state.A range of steps will be taken against these suspects, including criminal sanction, internal disciplinary measures, tax collection and blacklisting.Cutbacks at state IT agencyThe government is also looking at cutting back on IT services procured from the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), in order to allow departments to procure IT services at market-related prices.The government is also looking slashing Sita’s annual spending on temporary and contract workers by 20 percent, from around R400-million to R320-million.It plans to cut annual non-labour operating costs at Sita by 10 percent, from around R428-million to R385-million, while halving the agency’s budget for capital expenditure from R598-million to R300-million.All spending on capital expenditure at Sita will have to be approved by the government’s Capex Review Committee.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest 2015 Trade TalkThe Ohio Ag Net visits with Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s Angi Bunn about the family values aspect of her company.AgroLiquid Angie Bunn Family ValuesAgroLiquid’s Lonny Smith talks with Ty about some of the exciting products they have to offer in 2016. (Aired on OAN 11/19/15)AgroLiquid Lonnie Smith Productslast_img