Monday, January 30, 2006

Memo: Remember To Bring Trees On Friday, If Jet Blue Allows

..."A study of three dozen cities using satellite imagery by the nonprofit group American Forests, completed two years ago, found that over the past 25 years, cities have lost up to 30 percent of their tree canopy to development.

San Francisco's tree canopy hovers at a slim 11.9 percent of the city's surface area, compared with New York's 21 percent and Washington's 28.6 percent.

The loss of the so-called urban forest, said Deborah Gangloff, the group's executive director, is the result of sprawl, budget cuts and street widening, among other factors. The average city street tree lives 7 years compared with 60 years in a park and 150 years in a forest, the group's research shows.

"They're stuck in a concrete box, get bikes chained to them, with dogs relieving themselves and cars hitting them," Ms. Gangloff said. "They don't have room to grow because of power lines and sewer pipes. It's a hard life."...

Patricia Leigh Brown "New Laws Crack Down on Urban Paul Bunyans" New York Times, January 30, 2006.

Satellite image of Kyiv, Ukraine, 2001, showing residual tree groves and forests.

"Kiev (or Kyiv), Ukraine's capital and largest city, is located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper River. It is Ukraine's leading centre for industry, commerce, science and education. The city grew enormously between 1950 and 1980. A powerful technological complex with dozens of industrial companies was created, employing many highly skilled personnel. Kiev also became an important military centre for the Soviet Union. Because these developments created a large demand for labour, migration increased from rural areas in both Ukraine and Russia. Given that land had no formal value under socialism, planners were not motivated to economise on space. Massive suburbs and an extensive transportation system were built to accommodate the expanding population, although many rural buildings and tree groves survived in the city's hills. The [April] 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, 100 km to the north of Kiev, brought in thousands of refugees from the accident zone. In 1991, Kiev became the capital of an independent Ukraine.

According to the 2001 census, Kiev is home to about 2.6 million people. Other estimates based on recent migration patterns place its population at closer to four million people. Rapid urban expansion together with the economic transition and the privatisation process have created urgent environmental problems for the city. These include air pollution from energy and transport emissions, pollution of surface and underground waters by sewage and a decline in biological diversity. Another key environmental challenge for Kiev is coping with consumer, industrial, toxic, radioactive and other wastes. In 1998, some 300 enterprises and organisations in the municipality were using technologies whose by-products include radioactive waste. In addition, within the city limits there is a state-owned centre for depositing radioactive wastes transported in from around the country. A lack of effective new technologies for treating wastes, as well as a lack of space for landfills, is causing waste to accumulate on city land. Unsanctioned dumps of toxic industrial wastes are polluting the area's soil and water. There is an urgent need for more specialized wastetreatment facilities."

Text and Satellite Image credit: United National Environmental Programme Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) and Global Resource Information Database (GRID).

© UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Europe 1998-2006 All Rights Reserved


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