The 21st Urban Greening Forum will Address the Most Urgent Problems of Urban Greening in the 21st Century

Today almost every large city faces a development crisis—a combination of uncontrolled growth, rapid environment deformation and a lower quality of living environment. How can comfortable living environment be provided for city residents? How can the ecological trend be made a priority in development of a modern city? That’s what the 21st International Scientific and Practical Forum “PROBLEMS OF GREENING IN LARGE CITIES” will focus on. Kharis Yakubov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor of the Public Administration Faculty of the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the moderator of the Forum, told about key objectives for experts to be discussed.

As usual, this year specialists from many Russian cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk, Kaliningrad, Ufa, Petrozavodsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, and Perm, as well as our colleagues from Belarus, take part in Forum activities.
The program was arranged based on main relevant topics:

  • Greening as a driver of urban space ecologization.
  • The state of urban greenspaces—assessment and prospects.
  • Establishment, development and preservation of park, historical and landscape territories.
  • Protection of urban greenspaces—practices and efficiency.

Anything Worth Greening Is Worth a Scientific Approach
It’s not the first time we discuss these topics, but they remain relevant. Over many years, greening used to be seen as the most affordable (economically and technologically) and most effective (in the ecological context) method of urban area enhancement.
However, current levels of pollution and a common tendency to the worsening of the situation reduced capabilities of city plants significantly. Conventional ways of urban space greening by creating local planted areas (small parks or garden squares) can’t solve the environmental problem. Best case scenario is having a temporary decorative effect.
Today landscaped areas are loosing their ecological potential (carbon-dioxide absorption, oxygen production, filtration, microclimate control, reduction of noise level, etc.). Weakened and sick plants don’t have a streak of decorative value any more. There’s a saying: “A beautiful tree can’t be sick, and a sick tree can’t be beautiful.” It is necessary to take a more scientifically-based approach to selection of planting material assortment, its quality control and handling of plants. It’s the only way to ensure a high survival ability and, therefore, decorative value.

A Need for a Strategic Roadmap
During the Forum we will also discuss today’s most urgent urbanistic trend in the world—urban space ecologization by means of regulated housing development, use of different architectural and space-planning designs, including new greening technologies—greening of roofs and vertical surfaces. To start with, it implies that city authorities have a strategic plan of activities for a comprehensive approach to the problem. In simple terms, it should be not about typical primitive projects, but about greening projects based on new planting and handling technologies along with selecting resistant kinds of plants, using methods aimed at prevention of major soil contamination, etc. It’s not beautification current authorities are so enthusiastic about, but greening with an environmental objective that should become a priority in creating urban spaces. It should be kept in mind that initially urban greening belonged to the garden art. The art, not some flow line production of nondescript urban greenspaces paved with grey tiles!
These problems will be examined using Moscow as an example in the first place. Moscow is certainly one of the greenest metropolises in the world. At the same time, according to the Environmental City Rating 2018 published by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Moscow is one of unfavorable Russian cities by air pollution level (11th place). Moreover, while in other “top-ten” cities air pollution is caused by emissions from industrial enterprises, in Moscow it is 93% related to automotive pollution.
Today the main and the most relevant thing for Moscow is nor legislation development only, but its unquestioning implementation, when it comes to preservation of existing city territories of special protection. Any business activities in these grounds, as well as any withdrawal of slices of the territory for urban development needs (roads, residential areas, etc.) must be prohibited (with no exceptions).
We invite all those who don’t turn a blind eye to the future of landscaped areas and, eventually, health of city residents, to take part in discussions on these urgent issues!

For reference:
Kharis Yakubov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor, Department of Branch & Natural Resource Management, Public Administration Faculty of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Kh. G. Yakubov is a highly-skilled professional in field of urban greening, urban management, environmental problem of cities and urban conglomerates, and ecological examination. In 1997–2006 he led a city-wide program “Monitoring the State of Landscaped Areas.” He is the author of this Forum and its permanent moderator for 21 years.