|M.Sc Student||Shachar Zur|
|Subject||Trees' Habitat in the Israeli Urban Environment|
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Lissovsky Nurit|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
Ever since their first appearance on earth, trees have been hugely influential in shaping the planet’s ecology and living conditions. Today, studies have shown that trees offer a range of benefits and functions as a key component of urban ecology. The ecological services that trees provide the built environment have been empirically proven to be of critical importance to its inhabitants.
The importance of street trees far exceeds their relative proportion of the total urban forest. Of all elements of the urban forest, street trees are also the ones that are most adversely impacted by the urban environment.
In the present study, it is apparent that Israel falls significantly behind other parts of the world in its design, planting and long-term maintenance of street trees, in terms of allocation of resources, current practices and awareness of decision-makers of the importance of the subject.
In the present study, it is also apparent that Improper management, planning and implementation of trees in the Israeli urban environment, can bring about a gradual but significant degradation of the urban forest in general, and of street trees in particular.
Accordingly, it is worth noting a number of key findings of research in two areas: one is the definition of criteria for improving the practice of street tree planting, and the conditions for ensuring the thriving of the tree itself; the other concerns the general issue of urban forestry in Israel, which offers a host of insights at the level of policy, strategy and planning.
In the specific area of street tree planting, the present study has identified four basic conditions that play a major part in determining the success of trees in hard surface areas. Fulfilling these four conditions can ensure the health and longevity of street trees:
The first condition is the below-ground rooting space.
The second condition concerns the tree sapling itself.
The third condition concerns to the tree’s above-ground habitat.
The fourth condition concerns the design of the sapling and the maintenance of the tree throughout its life.
The present study reveals that in the urban planning system in Israel there is as yet no requirement for a masterplan or strategic plan for urban forestry. In fact, there is not a single authority in Israel that has a general strategic plan for managing urban tree resources. Such a plan would provide a vision and a long-term strategic and planning direction with regard to education about, and the design, planting, protection and cultivation of mature trees. In addition, it would provide goals for increasing urban tree cover, and formulate ways of managing its attendant resources.
The present study underlines the critical importance of such a plan, and supports the demand for its introduction.
In summary, this study highlights the importance of urban forestry, and offers a new approach and creative means of enhancing the urban forest. It is both theoretical and practical in its approach, and its findings can lay the groundwork for future planning and management of tree planting in Israeli towns and cities.