New plan calls for investment in urban forests

Investment in forestry within urban areas, or Urban Forests, could be the key to making cities across the Asia-Pacific region greener and more environmentally friendly, according to a report unveiled at the Asia-Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Launched in front of representatives from 17 countries from government and non-government organisations from around the world, the Asia-Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting marked an opportunity to boost the global effort regarding making city living more sustainable and friendly to the environment.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which co-hosted the meeting, the contributions that Urban Forests can make towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the Asia-Pacific was high on the agenda, with the new Seoul Action Plan taking centre stage.

During the meeting, it was revealed that the plan is centred around seven goals including making cities greener, cleaner, cooler, healthier, wealthier, more cultured and enjoy greater biodiversity, with actions to be implemented by each country to achieve these also specified.

The plan also has a 10-year time frame in place, which aims to boost the forest cover of cities across the region by at least 10 per cent by the year 2027, as well as to boost the accessibility of Urban Forests to ensure they’re accessible to at least 80 per cent of local people.

According to the FAO, the plan’s guiding principles are based on an agreement made at the 2016 first annual Asia-Pacific Urban Forestry Meeting, which stated that awareness of the benefits of urban forestry could be raised by enhancing advocacy, communication and education, which could eventually lead to greater levels of urban forestry investment through the diversification of funding sources.

This new avenue of environmental and social impact investment opportunity may also appeal to a younger generation of forestry investors, particularly in light of the fact that the potential for significant health benefits has been highlighted throughout the long-term action plan.

“Urban and peri-urban forests and trees can provide a wide range of benefits to urban communities by improving environmental quality, enhancing food security, conserving urban biodiversity, mitigating climate change, stimulating green economy, preserving natural and cultural heritage, strengthening social cohesion and providing environmental education opportunities,” the report stated.

James Barrett, spokesman for GWD Canada, praised the plan: “This new approach to forestry investment will provide the combined benefits of sustainability, improved health and economic success across the Asia-Pacific region.”

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