Urban forests are all the trees and other vegetation that grows in places where people live, work and play, from small communities in rural areas to large metropolitan cities. This includes trees on public and private land, along streets, in residential areas, parks and commercial developments, and in other locations within a community. They may be planted by design or have grown by accident (Miller 1988). Trees are an important part of our community, but tree planting, maintenance and protection require an investment of resources, including time and money. Are the benefits that trees offer to our communities bigger than their costs? The answer is yes.
This class will make students aware of the need for improving green spaces, adding new spaces, knowing the benefits from trees and shrubs in our daily life. Also being aware of the obligations we must fill in, referring to trees and shrubs needs, which is much needed especially here in Tirana city where the green spaces aren`t enough compared to the population which lives here and in its suburban areas. Confronting the problems that are in the located places will be a big step forward to better understand why these problems happen, how to deal with them and how to improve the situation where it is possible. The collaboration between students and different stakeholders, like local staff from the municipality, environmental NGO`s staff or nursery garden visits will help bring the situation to a better state of green areas living condition. This is what we aim to achieve with our teaching method of fieldwork for urban green areas.
- Urban dendrology lessons
Knowledge taken in this subject together with other related knowledge, serves to architecture, urban planning, study and preservation of the environment students. Decorative plants in the landscape are a key element to a well-planned and design landscape. Growing of trees and shrubs add aesthetic, economic and environment values to the land itself. The main objective is that the students could gain basic knowledge of trees, understand their classification, form, benefits, demands and uses. Lessons in class will be focused mainly in these topics:
Benefits of the Urban Forest.
This is an introduction to urban forestry and it explains why your work with communities and individuals in urban forestry is important. This unit also includes information about how to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs related to the urban forest.
This is an introduction to how trees grow and live. It describes how trees are structured, how they function, and how they grow and develop. It also explains how the urban environment influences tree growth and development.
This lesson is an introduction to identifying and understanding trees in the urban environment. It explains the classification of trees, naming trees and tree identification.
This unit also includes information on how characteristics of the urban environment influence tree identification. The lessons will deal with a lot of tree and shrub species in class.
This lecture is an introduction to the role that soils play in the health of the urban forest.
It explains what soil characteristics are important for healthy tree growth. This unit also includes information about common soil problems in urban areas.
Site and Tree Selection
Provides information on how to select a site and species to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs related to urban forestry. It explains what factors you need to consider when selecting a planting site, tree species, and tree stock.
This unit also discusses how to match these factors to ensure healthy tree growth and development.
This is a unit that will introduce factors to consider and techniques to implement when planting trees. It includes recommended guidelines for planting and post-planting. It also explains how to work with communities and individuals to successfully
This is an introduction to the importance of providing regular maintenance to the urban forest. The basic steps to preventative maintenance are discussed, such as fertilization, mulching, pruning and tree protection.
Trees and Construction
This is an introduction to the relationship between construction activities and trees. It explains the importance of communication during the construction process. The focus is on the impact of construction activities on trees, the protection of trees during construction and care for the tree before and after construction.
Urban Forestry Planning and Management
This is an introduction to the importance of planning and managing the urban forest. It starts with a definition of an urban forest management
plan and why they are important. Then it discusses the steps involved in developing a management plan. It also includes information on the different components in a management plan.
Urban Forestry and Public Policy
This lesson is an introduction to understanding public policy and how it relates to urban forestry. It first describes the role that each level of government has in setting public policy related to urban forestry. Next it provides information on local government in more detail because this is where most urban forestry policy is created and implemented. The role that Tree Boards have with local government is also discussed. The final section reviews public policy tools that can be used to address urban forestry issues in a community.
2. Our chosen teaching method that will be incorporated within the lessons is: Fieldwork
In class, we will discuss together what we aim to do with our fieldwork. Confronting a case study is part of our preparatory plan before fieldwork. We will program our field work days, places, tasks etc.
Our goal will be: how to better understand and improve urban green areas!
The work will be divided into small groups of students, fewer than 5 persons, so everyone will have the possibility to interact with others, share and gain knowledge contribute also. We will start by giving the students the opportunity to choose the site which can be a street, a small park, an eroded area or even a neglected space in the city, wich can be transformed in an attractive green area in the future.
Visiting urban green areas will be our main goal to better know trees and shrubs needs. The work will be followed by surveys in specific areas of the city decided in advance.
Different stakeholders will be part of our field work visits, like environmental organisation staff, local staff from municipality to interact and provide students with more information about the situation and the condition in general of these green urban areas. Their key role will be to give to student’s basic information about urban green areas plan or environmental knowledge in general and city green spaces in particular.
Students will start to identify species, check their actual status, needs, relation with the “grey infrastructure”, conditions in general and at the end propose better conditions/plant plots/distances etc for trees and shrubs. From this, students will be asked to highlight the most immediate intervention needed in the urban green areas and why they think this by explaining their proposed measures for the future.
Another visit will be to a nursery garden to get to know trees and shrubs suitable for planting in our specific urban area of study. The purpose of this visit will be that of getting professional information choosing the most adaptable trees and shrubs which will fit better with the environment condition in general.
All gathered data of our area of study will be shown in class, like inventories, trees and shrubs identification for our area of study, green and grey infrastructure conflicts, tree benefits (social, economic, environmental), presentation, and proposals to better condition and greater green areas in the future.
Students will be required to make observations, gather and analyse information, make the mapping of the area and write a fieldwork report. Students together with stakeholders will contribute in bringing the situation of green areas in the city to a different level at least at a theoretical level. This will be possible due to collaboration and given contribution by students performing with standards in planting trees and shrubs in urban areas and make sure that the urban forest will be in good condition of life in the future. The benefits of this collaboration between students and stakeholders will be a profitable situation for students itself and not only.
The aim of this method used for teaching will be that of giving the students the chance to get involved directly in the process of surveying, understanding the problematics and trying to find a sustainable solution for the problem. This method will allow the students to experience relevant situations first hand from a variety of different perspectives which is vital for their academic development and practice also.