Leading cities partnering with forests to combat climate change, protect watersheds and biodiversity, and improve human well-being
Trees and forests are immensely valuable to cities and their residents. They provide multiple health benefits, sustain water resources, help to combat climate change, and protect global biodiversity. Specifically, trees within cities (the “inner forests”) clean the air, offset heat islands (and lower energy bills), and support human health and wildlife. Trees in watersheds surrounding cities (the “nearby forests”) contribute to cleaner air and drinking water, reduce flooding, and offer an escape from hectic urban life. And trees in the “faraway forests”—particularly in the tropics—sequester large amounts of carbon, generate rain for the world’s farm belts, provide a wealth of useful products, and host the majority of the world’s land-based biodiversity.
In return, cities can provide immense value to forests. Because urban areas are increasingly where people live and work, the public policies and procurement practices of cities—as well as the values, votes, and consumption patterns of residents—have enormous potential to support the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of forests. Many cities already support forests in some way, from parks and urban forest to “green infrastructure” and watershed management programs. Fewer, if any, have efforts to support the faraway forests that are vital for combating climate change.
Cities4Forests is a movement to catalyze political, social, and economic support among city governments and urban residents to integrate the inner, nearby, and faraway forests into city development plans and programs. Participants share an aspiration to help reduce deforestation, restore forests (including more trees in cities), and manage forests more sustainably. Our goal is to amplify current best practices and extend the deliberate city-forest relationship to the global scale on which cities and forests interact.
Cities4Forests is a voluntary coalition involving mayors’ offices— and supported by other subnational agencies such as public water utilities and offices of sustainability—from around the world. Cities4Forests encourages peer-to-peer inspiration and learning, and members receive technical support from institutions with expertise in forests, climate change, water, communications, finance, and policy.
The Founding Cities of Cities4Forests are:
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Auckland, New Zealand
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Greater Manchester, UK
Johannesburg, South Africa
King County (WA), USA
Little Rock, USA
Los Angeles, USA
Mexico City, Mexico
New York City, USA
North Little Rock, USA
Portland (OR), USA
Salem (OR), USA
Salt Lake City, USA
São Paulo, Brazil
Washington, DC, USA
Cities4Forests is also endorsed by the Brazilian National Front of Mayors and Jalisco State, Mexico.
WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the United States, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and more. Our more than 700 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being.
About Pilot Projects
Pilot Projects Design Collective is a systems thinking and design consultancy based in Montreal and New York City. We help organizations ‘co-create a better world’ through inventive projects combining culture, infrastructure and the natural environment. Pilot Projects has expertise in architecture, urbanism, participatory design, project assessment and forest ecology, with services ranging from visioning and facilitation to complete project design and implementation. Co-create with us: www.pilot-projects.org
Based in Brussels and Barcelona, REVOLVE is a communication group fostering cultures of sustainability. REVOLVE publishes an award-winning quarterly international magazine, curates content and provides services for creating greater impact. Start revolving: http://revolve.media/