Hitchmough: "Vegetation the key to success for a 21st century sustainable city"

James Hitchmough, head of department and Professor of Horticultural Ecology at the University of Sheffield, has told a conference that horizon scanning shows opportunities and problems from climate change as we head towards a Bordeaux-like climate by 2050.

Hitchmough
Hitchmough
Hitchmough looked at the challenges from plant use and supply perspectives and how are we going to develop a more strategic view of the changes that are coming.
He surveyed possible responses to international treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and national Biosecurity measures that are putting a brake on the ingress of the new genetic material that we need to respond to our changing world.
Hitchmough told the audience of nursery stock growers at the HTA Contact event, that "vegetation is the key to success for a 21st century sustainable city".
Describing aesthetics, urban tolerance and function of plants as his "holy trinity" he said vegetation drops human stress levels and keeps cities cooler, mitigating climate change in cities and managing problems such as stormwater. 
He also suggested landscape architects might become more plant-focussed and ask growers more for plants they don't grow.
A Boningale trial at Hitchmough's University of Sheffield department on growing plants in crushed rock with stormwater filtration strips includes burning the beds at 500 degrees C in winter to kill weed seedlings.
He said new urban tolerant plants need to cope with soil compaction, grow new roots when damaged, cope with heat and cope with moisture stress.
Hitchmough predicted that sorbus "will disappear" as summers become warmer and drier. Quercus pubescens might replace Q.robur and he advocated Dilatris ixioides and Delosperma sphalmanthoides (for green roofs) as plants for the future. Magnolia dawsoniana and M. sprengeri are also urban tolerant, he said.
He concluded: "The nursery industry is not sufficiently focussed on what products do long-term. That should be part of your value set."

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