Delivering a multi-functional and resilient urban forest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Thomas A M Pugh
  • Jon P. Sadler
  • Christopher T. Boyko
  • Julie Brown
  • Silvio Caputo
  • Maria Caserio
  • Richard Coles
  • Raziyeh Farmani
  • Chantal Hales
  • Russell Horsey
  • Joanne M. Leach

External organisations

  • Faculty of the Creative Industries, Southampton Solent University
  • Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Lancaster University
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Coventry University
  • Birmingham City University
  • University of Exeter
  • London School of Commerce
  • Institute of Chartered Foresters


Tree planting is widely advocated and applied in urban areas, with large-scale projects underway in cities globally. Numerous potential benefits are used to justify these planting campaigns. However, reports of poor tree survival raise questions about the ability of such projects to deliver on their promises over the long-term. Each potential benefit requires different supporting conditions-relating not only to the type and placement of the tree, but also to the broader urban system within which it is embedded. This set of supporting conditions may not always be mutually compatible and may not persist for the lifetime of the tree. Here, we demonstrate a systems-based approach that makes these dependencies, synergies, and tensions more explicit, allowing them to be used to test the decadal-scale resilience of urban street trees. Our analysis highlights social, environmental, and economic assumptions that are implicit within planting projects; notably that high levels of maintenance and public support for urban street trees will persist throughout their natural lifespan, and that the surrounding built form will remain largely unchanged. Whilst the vulnerability of each benefit may be highly context specific, we identify approaches that address some typical weaknesses, making a functional, resilient, urban forest more attainable.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4600-4624
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2015


  • Ecosystem services, Forest, Futures, Resilience, Resilient, Scenarios, Systems, Tree, Urban