Plant for the Future: Climate Change and Tree Selection

News from the AllianceAuthor: Alex Hancock
Date: 25 January 2023

As urban forestry experts, we must do our best to ensure the species we recommend for planting today can live long, healthy lives in the harsh conditions of the urban environment, even as the climate changes. Tree species are recommended for a variety of reasons, such as aesthetics, availability, size, and maintenance needs. Selecting trees with an overarching vision that encompasses citywide species diversity and climate resilience strengthens the urban forest, making it less susceptible to pests and disease, sea level rise, or extreme weather such as heat, drought, and flash flood events. It requires careful planning to select trees that will thrive in the expected climate conditions 20, 30 and 60 years in the future. We were confronted with this task in a project in 2022 to review and expand the planting palette of Fremont, a city in California. To crack the case we developed a new method called the Sister Climate City Analysis to model the future climate of Fremont with a real world example. This is a crucial challenge for any city so we decided to break down the information needed to identify tree species that have the best chance of benefiting cities for generations to come.
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