NATURE IN A WINTER CITY

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_ploutarxina'>ploutarxina / 123RF Stock Photo</a> 

 

 

NATURE IN A WINTER CITY

 

 

14 December 2017 Update

 

 

 

 

 

Iseult Catherine O'Brien

Montessori Teacher & Supervisor    |    Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students  |   

A Member of The Tutors' Association

 

 


 

 

 

NATURE IS EXTRAORDINARY!

 

Given a little crack in the pavement, a buddleia or a sycamore will struggle to the light!

 

Just because Winter has arrived, I believe parents, guardians, or carers (PGCs) should not halt walks with small children but rather, as often as possible, head out with enthusiasm.  Daily walks are best, when possible.  These are part of the child’s playtime, exercise, education, and socialisation, and it is important to keep this up so that children continue to meet the people and see the objects known to them. 

 

Few people have private gardens, particularly in inner suburbia and inner city living, but that does not mean that the rest of us should be denied the glory of Nature in Winter and the chance to share its beauty and wonder, and  knowledge of it, with children of all ages.  We just need to get organised, booted, well-padded, and insulated. 

 

Hats that cover the ears are essential, so are scarves for some, as some children and adults do not enjoy the cold air in their mouths or noses, and youngsters won't know this until they discover it outside.  If the temperature is very low, everyone should be wearing waterproof, insulated gloves, these can be bought in sports' and outdoor activities' shops at reduced prices during the Summer sales.

I would be inclined to give a smear of Vaseline, or another such product, on and around the mouth and nostrils of each child, to prevent skin chaffing, if it's very cold

 

Things may get slippery, and we should tell children this in a matter of fact way, saying "hold onto my hand"; even older children may take advantage of the offer, possibly hanging onto a belt.  Keep the advice about the paths possibly being slippery due to frost or snow, low key.  This is all a part of Winter!

 

There is evidence that some children are not learning spatially as they do not get enough time for real physical play, to run, and to be children, free for three hours a day of exercise, however the school and the family fit it in. 

 

Please see Section ~

INCREASED PHYSICAL AND OTHER CONSTRAINTS IN SCHOOL AND THE CONSEQUENCES,  in my Post, 'Child's Life Balance'containing the comments of Rae Pica, a highly regarded Early Childhood Author, Keynote Speaker, Consultant, and Broadcaster.

 

 

In the early days of Winter, before we may be looking at deep snow, its a VERY good SPATIAL exercise to keep balanced on two feet when negotiating slippery pavement, other pedestrians, kerbs, steps, and other everyday things take on a new significance as a thing to be got around or over, or between.

 

There will be sliding and slipping on some days, and even adults can land on their posteriors!  Make sure everyone knows that slipping and falling are part of what happens, and just to take care as much as possible.

 

 

Sometimes, in the busyness of life, we miss the obvious on our doorsteps.

In Winter, it's best to take it slowly, and trips with new walkers, or children who have not experienced Winter in reality, can be quite short at first, but still full of interest and novelty.  One hopes all the walkers have footwear with good grips or cleats on the soles. 

 

Once out the door and onto the path, the sense of hearing may be the first one to be engaged.  Even as the first foot plants itself on the path, a crunch may be heard.  Naturally, everyone looks down to see what went 'crunch'.  It could be a little ice or a layer of snow.  When you move that foot up for its next step, check to see if you have left a design with the sole of your boot!  

 

The fuel emissions from most passing vehicles, which are discharged at around the height of a young child, have to be considered.  PGCs have to balance the level of harm to young children from fuel emissions against the benefits of wonder and learning, plus exercise, children experience on their walks around the neighbourhood. 

 

The Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020  is to be found at the end of this Post, and it gives a great deal of attention to the health benefits of trees in cities, including absorbing pollution.  The Strategy document would make one wish to  fight for the trees we have, and insist on more being including in all developments, public and private. 

The health benefits of trees are extraordinary, particulary in city living. 

 

 

 

DISCOVER, DESCRIBE, DRAW

This is an opportunity to stop and notice: to recognise any berries or leaves that may remain, and to try to guess what a shrivelled specimen used to be in its Spring or Summer glory.  On any piece of wasteland, you shall see the drooping, dark, rather gloomy, heads of buddleia, which blossomed so brightly in various shades during Summer.  Thistles give dramatic sillouettes, in their many sizes.  Also visible are the teasel heads, which have grown to ten feet tall, or more.  In Winter, their beautiful, tiny, mauve flowers have long blown away, leaving a tall, majestic plant, with a beautifully shaped flowerhead.  Please mind the stem - it has spikes or spurs which could tear your gloves, or scratch your fingers.

   

A small child is at a perfect height to have a very good look around the small patch of earth at the base of a tree one comes across, seeming to grow out of the pavement.  Given enough time to get focused, the child shall notice the smallest ants, centipedes, millipedes, possibly the odd glimpse of a worm, and many other tiny creatures going about their business.  These are all part of the diet of our blackbirds and robins.

 

If it's not too cold to take a glove off for a few minutes, the child should have an opportunity to stroke the bark of the tree, and decide if it is smooth, bumpy, rough, or if it feels cracked. It does feel different in Winter, because the ice in tiny pockets of the bark make it smoother than at other times of the year.  Have a go, what do you think?

 

Don't forget to look up!  The smaller branches with sparklings of ice or snow, make a beautiful latticework.  Nature has always though of it first - beautiful!

 

Keep listening -  block out the sound of traffic, can you hear birdsong?   Blackbirds have one of the most recognisable warbles of all songbirds.  Some birds, like blackbirds are often stay-at-homes.  Red-winged blackbirds in northern North America winter in the southern United States, as far as about 800 miles from their breeding ranges. 

Flocks of migrating Scandinavian birds may arrive in Scotland and find food and milder conditions there.  However, harsh weather in Scotland may drive the hungry birds to fly farther south and some of them may arrive in your garden in Ireland to feed under a bird table or on the many Autumn fruits and berries that are still very plentiful. They may carry on to North Africa if Ireland is experiencing an unusual, very harsh, Winter.  What fortitude they have.

 

Most birds that migrate to warmer climates do so because their diet is mainly of nectar, which is unavailable in Winter.  Birds that live on berries and insects found in or under bark, and in the soil, are likelier to stay.

 

 

If the family has a book on local flora and fauna, with colour photographs and sketches, which can be got at very reasonable prices, you, as a family, can identify the bird and animal life, the insects, and all the trees, plants and weeds in your neighbourhood.   Weeds are only plants in the wrong place!

 

Go to this link to discover why leaves change colour in Autumn  - earthsky.org/earth/why-do-tree-leaves-turn-red-in-fall. 

 

Neighbours and passers-by would be greeted by the PGCs which the child shall notice, and very soon, the pair will be greeted in turn by these new acquaintances.  The young child is starting his or her general social interaction with these new people.  In Winter, it's much more likely you'll stop and have a quick chat about the weather, and maybe hear some local news.

 

 

Children should be told from the first day out in Winter, as with every season, and reminded every day, as they get ready to go outside, that they can look at everything around them, ask any questions, but never to pick something up off a pavement, from the grass or ground of a playground, a park, or from a puddle, pool, or stream, be it an naturally occurring object, or man-made. 

 

A simple explanation that there are 'bad types of dirt' should be sufficient for the early years.  Discussions on germs and cuts, and the basics of first-aid, can be had later.  As long as a child is well aware not to pick up anything without pointing it out to the responsible adult first, things should go fine.  When the child is older, he or she can list for you the safety rules to be followed.

 

 

As soon as they get home, have taken off their layers, washed their hands, and taken a drink and snack, the child and adult can take out chunky crayons and paper, and remembering what they saw, draw the plantlife and insects, and the bark of the trees.  Maybe some of the branches of trees had a glisten of ice or snow; how would you draw ice?!

 

Plus, he or she may have made a first ever footprint in snow or ice.  If so, perhaps you would clean the sole of said footwear, produce some poster paint, and help the child cover the sole using a piece of old sponge or a rag to help pat the paint evenly onto the sole.  Choosing an A4 printer sheet of paper, or anything that suits you, you plant the boot or shoe down hard and hold it steady in place for a few moments before lifting it off, while holding the paper down.  With luck, you shall have a perfect copy of the mark left in the snow.  Write the date of this 'great step' on the paper, and if the child can write his or her name, have it appended when the paint has dried, otherwise, you write the child's name on the sheet.  Poster paint wipes off very easily with a damp cloth.  

Perhaps, you could use a double page sheet of the day's newspaper, and put a few different coloured prints down.

 

 

This would be an important record on the child's bedroom wall, placed at approximately one metre / three feet above floor height, or whatever height suits the child's eye level.

 

 

This was a BIG adventure for a 12-18 month old child, and older.  He or she would be full of news of the walk and who they met, and have the drawings to show what was seen, to tell and show whoever comes in that evening.

 

 

As the child grows, he or she shall become a strong walker, fitter than many children of the same age.  Walks will become longer, opening new vistas, expanding experiences, and broadening the information base. 

 

 

From easy to detect colours during Spring, Summer and Autumn, when the child learns the names of the nettles, daisies, thistles, blue speedwell, dandelions, and buttercups, and will notice changes in leaf colour of the various trees in the neighbourhood, learn their names, and the types of trees.  Winter offers more discreet colours, but there is still plenty going on, one just has to look more closely. 

Have a look at your local flora and fauna book, to prepare yourself for what you may find, which you can show to the child.

 

 

LEVELS OF LEARNING

Such a child will be learning in a visual, aural, tactile, sensual, spatial, and intellectual way, about Nature in his or her world, and also learning a great deal more on a subliminal level.  The sensations felt on the face and hands, through the seasons, as the child interacts with weather and Nature, grows in strength, knowledge, and appreciation of beauty and the cycle of life, are gifts that are never lost or forgotten.

 

 


 

The Family's Discovery

 

THE FAMILY'S DISCOVERY

Due to people’s work commitments, which may now be more onerous, many PGCs are working and commuting longer hours than ever before; bad weather can extend these journeys.  Perhaps, outdoor trips are rare from Monday to Friday, although plans and preparations CAN be made in the evenings for what the family will do over the weekend.  Anticipation is a GREAT part of the pleasure.

 

 

Examining the family's book on local flora and fauna, with colour photographs and sketches, before a planned trip, should help everyone learn what berries or nuts are in season, and what animals may be about, so that the family members can keep an eye out for these on their travels.

Many trees will be completely bare of leaves, and can be identified best at this time of year.

 

Sketches are the best for helping to identify a tree by its outline shape and the way the branches align themselves, something one could never see at any other time of year.

 

Drawing a silhouette of a such a tree is a beautiful exercise for an older child, just using pencil and paper, and would further reinforce the information learnt from the viewing and identification.

 

Someone in the family may enjoy taking photographs and have a camera, which would enable recording the great trees and everyone busy at whatever they are doing.  Anyone with a mobile can use their phone to take photographs.  Smaller children might be allowed to take a few photographs with the larger camera, given assistance.  Of course, drawing is not impossible, but it can be difficult wearing bulky gloves.

 

 

Any photographs can be attached to a large sheet of paper (see below),  with drawing details, added to after every trip, and some trophies, like skeleton or or web shaped twiglets, thorny looking chestnut casings.  Winter makes everything magic!

 

Children, from around 2.5 years upward, can be responsible for helping plan what shall be required for the weekend trip, collecting the equipment needed, and packing it in rucksacks / backpacks and other bags, one for everyone to carry, except for very small children.

 

This is a useful part of developing planning skills and taking on responsibility.

 

Unlike most other outings in the year, Winter visits to local parks, are mostly about engaging full on with whatever snow or ice is around - whatever Nature throws at us!

Surprize and then imagination are at the heart of everyone's work and play.  There is no wrong way to do it!

 

 

Building from snowmen, to fortresses, to fairy houses, to any odd looking construction, is a blast!  Some people are inclined to be precise, and step out the paces, others go with the flow.  

Everything is wonderful when the snow is here! 

 

 

Depending on where we live, it may never snow, it may snow sometimes, or it may snow very deep.

 

 

Where I live, it snows sometimes, which is becoming less and less likely, with the changes to our global weather.  Maybe because it's rare enough here, we go bonkers if we get three inches!  Who needs sleds? 

 

As children, we went to our local park with big sheets of dismantled corrugated cardboard boxes

We climbed the hill, which looked like a mountain when we were young, grabbed the front of the cardboard very tightly, and just took off - little steering, no speed control, and we stopped when we feel off at the bottom. 

Then, we raced back up the hill, and did it all over again!

 

Those are the days one remembers.

 

 

 


 

PLANNING 

On the day of the trip, the children shall need to pack a bottle of water to be carried by an adult, plus unbreakable cups that can take hot drinks; thermos flasks containing maybe hot chocolate for the children and coffee or tea for the adults and older offspring; a mixture of semi-dried fruit, some warmed potato cakes or scones, well buttered; paper tissues, and perhaps a small tube of aloe vera gel or a small bottle of Pure Bergamot Oil (which has anti-bacterial, antibiotic, and anti-tetanus properties, and speeds healing), or Pure Lime Oil (with its its excellent antibacterial qualities).    Don't overload yourselves.

Lime Essential Oil can be applied to minor wounds, scrapes, and frost burns, to help speed up the healing process and prevent harmful bacteria from taking hold.  You can apply the Oil directly to the wound or add a few drops to a cold compress and apply the compress to your skin.  This is better to have at home, to deal with any freeze-burns or cut and scratches.

 

 

Plus, bring a bag for all the empty bottles, wrapping and other rubbish generated; which shall be brought home for proper disposal.  The children shall learn, first hand, lessons on what material is recyclable, and what must go in the 'waste' bin and the'compost' bin,  as they help unpack the bag when back home.

 

Each family member has food and drink likes and dislikes, and it would be a good exercise for children of around two-and-a-half years, and older, to consider these matters, and any other items they think may be necessary to add to the packing for the trip out. 

 

These ideas should be discussed with everyone, and the children should be listened to with attention; they have put thought and effort into the ideas for everyone.

 

This planning would be a serious matter for the children, and the reasons for their choices should be listened to closely, interest shown in their thought processes, and acknowledgement given to interesting or novel and useful ideas.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 Copyright: dzejmsdin / 123RF Stock Photo

 

  

UP AND OUT!

I believe that if parents and children get up early even ONE morning over the weekend, dress for the weather, no matter how chilly, and head to the nearest park, or just a small piece of green space, now covered in snow or frost, or both, whatever is available, a great many wonderful things can happen!

 

 

They would greet the people they pass in their neighbourhood on the way to their destination, having a good snoop in gardens and window boxes en route. 

 

A smallish space can become a Continent, viewed with an open mind, getting down to ground level! 

 

Adults and children examine the terrain, noting rocks and stones, puddles iced over, grasses and old seed heads, shriveled berries, shrubs and plants, trees, old, tattered, blossoms, seed pods, worms and worm casts, ants, empty snail shells, spiders and their webs, beetles, evidence of bird and fox activity ~ everything audible and visible!   

 

Everyone can make personal rough notes or drawings, even the youngest will have their offerings.

 

 

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO SEE?

The London Plane tree is widely considered to be the world's most reliable city tree.

 



The Norway Maple  "The very shade that endears the tree to some planters is bad news to others ... The resulting shade can seem as refreshing as a forest glen or as sombre as a Norwegian Winter - even menacing, depending on temperament or the neighbourhood situation."

 

 

The evergreen Irish Yew can be seen growing in many graveyards up and down the countryside, and in town and city centres.  There have been studies done on it and it proves to have anticarcinogenic properties ~ unique to the Irish Yew!  

 

 

The Horse Chestnut and Chestnut trees are very common on urban streets around Ireland, Western Europe, and many other places.  

 

Many people do NOT like spiders in the house, and as the weather gets colder they are inclined to come indoors.  A good way of keeping spiders out is to collect conkers (chestnuts) and leave them in bowls around windows and anywhere the spiders may find ingress.  Spiders do not like the smell of conkers!  If you have dogs, please take care, as some react badly to eating conkers; ask your vet. 

 

Another way to use them, could involve the children making Christmas presents.   An adult uses an awl-type needle, or a slim cork screw, and bores a hole through the centre of each chestnut, and then the children string the conkers on strong coloured string or ribbon with a big knot at the bottom, using a big, blunt-topped needle, spacing them a fair few inches apart and then knotting the thread or ribbon under each conker.

 

The children could tie a ribbon bow on top of each conker in various bright colours.   These could be hung by a loop beside windows and beside beds, or beside the back and front doors.

 

Don't worry if some of the chestnuts break, they can be the ones put in the bowls on window sills.  The smell of the chestnut would be stronger from these broken pieces.

 

 

Some children and adults are very uncomfortable or afraid at the idea of a spider in their bedrooms, and having a personal anti-spider device beside their beds would surely lead to more peaceful nights, and make a special, lovely, present.

 

 

 

The above information in lime green was sourced at

https://www.google.ie/searchq=plants+and+trees+visible+in+autumn+and+winter+streets&oq=plants+and+trees+visible+in+autumn+and+winter+streets&aqs=chrome..69i57.34864j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 


 

 

THERE IS SO MUCH TO AMAZE AND INTEREST

The most exotic plants can thrive in a city centre because the temperature of a city is usually a couple of degrees higher than the surrounding environment, due to pollution and light levels.

 

When buddleia was first brought to Europe by plant hunters, it was kept in glass-houses as it was thought to be very delicate.   In fact, it is a great addition to almost any wayside piece of land, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and it is a beneficial pollinator.  The bushes are known as "The Butterfly Bush", and have conical flower spikes that bloom in intense hues of pink, orange, red, and purple, throughout the Summer.  They will grow on any bit of rubble strewn land ~ so much for delicate!  They are beautiful dark, eerie, profiles in Winter.

 

On arriving home, all can peel off and put away their outdoor wear, wash their hands, and have a favourite drink.

 

THEN, everyone gets down on the floor with cushions and a very large piece of paper spread flat, on which they draw their Map, including everything they saw and noted.  With the help of the family book on local flora and fauna with colour photographs, identifications can be made, and lore and medicines used in the past, from some of the plants, can be investigated, along with the life cycles of insects and spiders, foxes, and any other creatures observed. 

 

Until you look at your drawings and photographs, you won't know what images you may have captured - there could be the pawprints of foxes in the snow!

 

 

RICHES OF NATURE

Here are some of the most ordinary, and frequently found weeds and wild flowers, and some of their uses.  These will appear in the Spring, so check out your local flora and fauna book to be prepared.  

 

Nettle is probably one of the commonest weeds of all, and the water drained and cooled, from the young leaves simmered, is used as a calming lotion for skin, and especially for the face. (The young shoots are picked in Spring to make a tonic, and used as a vegetable. The leaves are very nutritious, containing Vitamins A and C, plus appreciable quantities of iron, and other minerals ~ of value in anaemia.  With a high Potassium content, it is markedly diuretic.*)   In the past, families would go foraging for the new, fresh, nettle leaves, knowing them to be of nutritional benefit.  This knowledge was life saving. 

People would have made it through a harsh Winter, and needed to be built-up.   Dandelion milk was used to cure warts, and the whole plant was boiled to be used as a kidney rinse. Young dandelion leaves can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable (dandelion leaves and roots are a rich source of Potassium, as well as being diuretic *).  They taste best when they are young, before the plant has blossomed.  Wine is made from the flowers.  A hot infusion of the whole of the common thistle was used as an herbal steam for treating rheumatic joints.  Milk thistle grows easily on waste ground, self-seeding.  (The seeds are collected in late Summer, when mature.  It is used in protecting and supporting liver function and liver cell regeneration; it is being shown to be a significant treatment for Hepatitis A in blind trials.*)   The entire plant of the creeping buttercup is an analgesic and rubefacient~ makes the face red if applied to its skin, an early form of blusher!  A poultice of the chewed leaves was used in the treatment of sores, muscular aches and rheumatic pains.

 

Be wary, the common buttercup is toxic!

 

Grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and older friends of the family may have stories and lore from their youth - they may know of cures for illnesses and tonics to keep the family well.  If these were learnt from their own grandparents, imagine what richnesses they know.  Older people sometimes feel they'd bore the company, ask them your questions - when they were young, they felt just like you!

 

Hedgehogs will be hibernating under ordinary looking piles and small branches, twigs, and leaves, they often lean against the base of a tree in a park, or in a quiet corner of a building, where detritus is blown.  Please be very careful to let everyone know not to go poking with sticks at tempting piles of leaves.  Hedgehogs live off their fat when hibernating and their body activities go down to a very low heart beat and breathing.  If they are awoken, it takes a good deal of their carefully stored energy supplies to get back to sleep.  When they come out of hibernation, they are very undernourished, and need to eat immediately.  It's a very tight margin, we cannot mess with their life balance.  (See below for a photograph.)

 

 


 

 

 

A separate Map might be made for each season.  Broken branches, found on the ground, can be brought home to do bark and leaf rubbings.  In season, seed heads can be gathered and opened at home to examine the seeds.  Have you ever played conkers?

 

Photographs can be added to the Maps. As the seasons change, as will the material to be discovered.  

 

 

Engaging with Nature in a city is not expensive, everyone can get involved no matter how young or old.  This is a way for a family to discover the world of Nature in their neighbourhood, to learn together, while relaxing in each other's company.  These weekend expeditions can be both silly and serious.  Children get to spend time working and playing with their family and strengthening their sense of belonging.  

 

These days feed the family’s imagination, on their privately discovered Continent, leading the way to bigger expeditions as the children grow.

 

 

The sound of cracking ice on a puddle is like nothing else!

 

 

 

Regards, Iseult

 

Iseult Catherine O'Brien

 

 


 

 

 

Please also see the Companion Post ~

 

"Children's City Life"

 

the Winter Edition, for more information on Nature - on the wing, or on four paws.

 

 

 

If you have any comments, positive or negative, I should welcome hearing your views.  If you find any errors or wish to disagree with any of the above, please let me know.

 

 

 Email iseultccobrien@gmail.com

 

 

 I am an elected Member of The Tutors' Association. 

 

 

See my LinkedIn site for further information

 

 https://ie.linkedin.com/in/educationbelongs2all

 

 


 

 

If I quote a person, group, organisation, or establishment, I do my very best to source the material quoted, and to attribute it properly.  If I cannot satisfy myself I have found the author or speaker who voiced a quote, I resist using it, no matter how tasty a bite!  If I refer in passing to views expressed by others, I attribute the views even if they have not been given verbatim in the text.

 

I work on a basis of goodwill and good intentions.  I shall make errors, being human, and when I do, I apologise now, and should always welcome a correction, which I would insert in the relevant Post prominently, in clear unambiguous text and type, repeating the apology. That's is the best I can do!

 

 


 

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_kiravolkov'>kiravolkov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 


 

 

 

Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020

 

A planted tree is a promise.  It is through growth over time that a tree can fulfil its potential to deliver its full range of benefits and, through these, a return on investment.  As such, trees have a very different lifecycle to most other public assets: their value increases with time.

 

 

Importance of Trees in the City

Trees are a valuable functional component of the urban landscape – they also make a significant contribution to people’s health and quality of life.  Within the City, trees clean the air, provide natural flood defences, mask noise and promote a general sense of wellbeing.  Within the higher density areas of the City trees have considerable beneficial impacts on the lives of those who do not have immediate access to other more traditional types of open space.  Trees, for example, can add colour, interest and beauty to our busy streets.  Within the City, urban trees contribute significantly towards many environmental and social benefits, such as journey quality, biodiversity, temperature regulation, and habitat.

 

Within the city, trees clean the air, provide natural flood defences, mask noise and promote a general sense of wellbeing.

 

 

Health and Wellbeing

Trees play an important role in reducing the risk of skin cancers by providing shade from harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Our stress and illness levels are often lower where trees are planted, as trees provide psychological refreshment and a sense of wellbeing through softening the urban environment.  As trees mature, they create character and a sense of place and permanence whilst releasing scents and aromas that create a positive emotional response.  Research published in Horizon – the research magazine of the European Union - has shown that exposure to trees helps to prolong life and improve mental health (Roberts, J and Boorman E, 2015).

 

Habitat Provision

Dublin’s trees are a key component of the valuable urban habitat and make up a significant and highly visible component of the capital’s biodiversity.   Some species in the Capital subject to legal protection are strongly associated with trees, such as bats and birds (many of which nest in trees and shrubs).  Trees and shrubs also provide food for many animal, plant and fungi species, from non-vascular plants, such as mosses, to insects, birds and mammals.

 

Pollinating insects provide ecosystem services in urban areas by pollinating flowers and producing food.  The diverse nature of urban land use offers a wide range of pollinator habitats, but trees offer an important source of pollen at particular times of year when other sources are unavailable.

 

There is potential for the City’s tree stock to develop in the future, and provide greater environmental and social benefits for future generations.  As the amount of healthy leaf area equates directly to the provision of benefits, future management of the tree stock is important to ensure canopy cover levels continue to increase.  This may be achieved via new planting and the protection and management of existing trees to develop into a stable, healthy, age and species diverse, multi-layered tree population.

 

The successful retention of suitable trees is a benchmark of sustainable development.

 

Rainfall runs off land and buildings at such a rate that it is unable to drain away in streams, rivers, drains or sewers.  Large urban areas are particularly at risk because the coverage of impermeable surfaces such as buildings, pavements, roads and parking areas means that rainwater cannot permeate into the ground or be absorbed by plants and trees or stored in ditches and ponds.  In addition, this runoff can quickly become polluted, as the rain effectively washes urban streets and buildings carrying high concentrations of hydrocarbons, metals, dust, litter and organic materials into local streams and rivers where the concentration can cause serious pollution to those watercourses.  Climate change predictions suggest more intense rainfall events during summer months, and generally wetter conditions through winter months, which will intensify the problems.  During rainfall a proportion of the precipitation is intercepted by vegetation (trees and shrubs) whilst a further proportion reaches the ground.  The root systems of urban trees promote infiltration and water storage in the soil.  Together this slows the passage of stormwater into the piped drainage network.

 

 

Ecosystem Services provided by Urban Trees

Trees play a crucial role in capturing pollutants and particulates from the air.  Street trees can significantly improve air quality, which can in turn provide health benefits, if planned, planted and maintained carefully.

 

 

Air Pollution Removal

Trees play a crucial role in capturing pollutants and particulates from the air.  Street trees can significantly improve air quality, which can in turn provide health benefits, if planned, planted and maintained carefully.  The problems caused by poor air quality are well known, ranging from human health impacts to damage to buildings, and smog.  Trees make a significant contribution to improving air quality by reducing air temperature (thereby lowering ozone levels), directly removing pollutants from the air, absorbing them through the leaf surfaces and by intercepting particulate matter (eg, smoke, pollen, ash and dusts).  Trees can also indirectly help to reduce energy demand in buildings; resulting in fewer emissions from gas and oil fired burners, excess heat from air conditioning units and reduced demand from power plants.

 

 

Carbon Storage and Sequestration

Carbon storage relates to the carbon currently held in trees’ tissue (roots, stem, and branches), whereas carbon sequestration is the estimated amount of carbon removed annually by trees.  Trees can help mitigate climate change by sequestering atmospheric carbon as part of the carbon cycle.  Since about 50% of wood by dry weight is comprised of carbon, tree stems and roots can store up carbon for decades or even centuries.  Over the lifetime of a single tree, several tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide can be absorbed.

 

 

Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020

https://www.dublincity.ie/sites/default/files/content/RecreationandCulture/DublinCityParks/Documents/Dublin%20City%20Tree%20Strategy%202016-2020.pdf