Source: Juliane Vogt, Sten Gillner, Mathias Hofmann, Andreas Tharang, Sebastian Dettmann, Tina Gerstenberg, Catrin Schmidt, Helmut Gebauer, Keith Van de Riet, Uta Berger, Andreas Roloff, “Citree: A database supporting tree selection for urban areas in temperate climate,” Landscape and Urban Planning; related news: “Database helps plant ‘right tree for the right place’,” BBC
Dresden, Germany (January 2017) – Researchers have compiled a 400-species database to encourage planting the “right tree in the right place” in urban areas. The team of scientists hope the information will help shift the focus away from the way trees look and towards biodiversity.
Over the next decade, the urban environment is expected to increase by nearly 30%. “We wanted to place the focus on city and urban locations when choosing trees, but not on the aesthetic aspects,” said co-author Juliane Vogt from the Institute of Forest Growth and Forest Computer Science at Techische Universitat Dresden, Germany.
“City planners tend to like 10 to 15 species of tree, and they like to plant them again and again – that’s not really biodiversity,” Dr. Vogt observed. “This is why we put in 390 trees and shrubs into the database so there was a huge range of different species and varieties.
Dr. Vogt added that she hoped that professionals, such as city planners and landscape architects, would use the database, adding “but we also think it will be of interest for homeowners if they have a garden and want to find out what sort of tree would be suitable.”
Choosing optimal and suitable trees and shrubs in urban areas can minimize the negative influences and increase the positive effects and the aesthetic acceptance by urban residents. Additional challenges in the selection of trees and shrubs are user requirements and growth conditions at urban sites. Therefore, the selection of planted trees and shrubs in cities has to incorporate these location-specific factors.
Based on an extensive literature review, more than 390 woody plants were investigated to obtain a comprehensive assessment of specific characteristics by integrating specific urban aspects. Within this study, a database was developed that allows users to simultaneously consider site characteristics and natural distribution, tree appearance, ecosystem services, management activities, and the risks and interferences caused by urban woody plants.
The Citree database is useful for preventing mistakes in planning, which would otherwise result in high ecologic and economic costs. Choosing the right species for the right location will also increase the floristic biodiversity within urban tree plantings and the sustainable uses of urban trees.