Natives-only urban tree policies "compromise ecosystem resilience"

Planting only native species in towns and cities fails to maximise trees' usefulness, according to an international research team led by Dr Henrik Sjöman of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, a regular speaker at UK industry events.

Image: Bonguri (CC-BY-ND-2.0)
Image: Bonguri (CC-BY-ND-2.0)

"Many practice-orientated publications,research papers and governmental websites in the fields of urban planning, urban forestry, and urban ecology argue for planting native species and avoiding introduced species," they write.

The result has been "a groundless and unreasonable argument where exotic species are generally considered incapable of providing ecosystem services".

On the contrary, using examples from northern and central Europe they claim that "in some regions the catalogue of native tree species may be too limited to fulfil ecosystem services and resilience in harsh urban environments".

They conclude: "If 'native-only' approaches become incorporated in policy documents or legislation there is a risk that urban ecosystem resilience will be compromised, particularly in regions with extreme environmental conditions."

The research appears in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 

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