Project

EUFORICC

Goal: Establishing Urban FORest based solutions In Changing Cities

Date: 15 September 2019

Updates
0 new
5
Recommendations
0 new
1
Followers
0 new
13
Reads
3 new
288

Project log

Rocco Pace
added a research item
Le foreste urbane possono svolgere importanti funzioni ambientali e sociali, e se adeguatamente pianificate e gestite, apportano benefici rilevanti per il miglioramento della qualità della vita dei cittadini. A tal fine, l'inventario e le analisi dendrometriche assumono un ruolo essenziale per valutare e monitorare le dimensioni, la crescita e le condizioni degli alberi urbani. I parametri che vengono solitamente misurati sono il diametro a petto d’uomo (DBH) e l'altezza totale ma, per un inventario completo, sono necessari anche i dati sulle dimensioni della chioma (larghezza, altezza e proiezione a terra). Questi dati sono raccolti attraverso indagini di campo utilizzando strumenti tradizionali come il cavalletto dendrometrico o la rotella metrica, per misurare la circonferenza e il DBH, e l'ipsometro/clinometro elettronico per misurare l'altezza e la dimensione della chioma. Un maggiore grado di dettaglio si ottiene impiegando strumenti digitali avanzati come Field-Map, una stazione computerizzata portatile, concepita per realizzare rapidamente indagini dimensionali e topografiche di alberi e popolamenti forestali. Inoltre, l’integrazione di uno scanner LIDAR negli smartphone di ultima generazione, come l'iPhone 12 Pro, ha reso questo tipo di dispositivo in grado di effettuare anche diverse misure degli alberi e di altri dati a livello spaziale. In questo studio, abbiamo quindi testato questi tre diversi metodi di misurazione in un campionamento sul campo di un parco urbano e li abbiamo confrontati in termini di parametri misurabili come la precisione, i costi e l’efficienza in termini di tempo impiegato per i rilievi. Infine, abbiamo discusso i pro e i contro di ogni metodo e di come i dati possono essere impiegati per valutare i servizi ecosistemici degli alberi, fornire indicazioni sulla gestione e ridurre così i potenziali rischi o disservizi.
Mariagrazia Agrimi
added 2 research items
Applicazione del modello interdisciplinare COVE (COnservation of VEteran trees) ai siti storici di Roma: Villa d'Este, Villa Aldobrandini, Villa Borghese e Grottaferrata, al fine di accrescere le conoscenze e fornire informazioni utili a sostegno della gestione di esemplari plurisecolari di platano orientale.
Annalisa Theodorou
added a research item
Evidence on the benefits of virtual nature for individuals is steadily increasing. In this contribution, report a systematic review summarizing studies that examined the implications of virtual nature on psychological and psychophysiological outcomes up to 2021. We used Scopus, Web of Science, and PsycINFO to identify the studies of interest. We found 160 records, of which 38 met the eligibility criteria. Results from quality assessment showed that most studies (thirty) were of medium or high quality and only eight were evaluated as low-quality studies. Studies addressed three main outcomes: mood, stress, and restorativeness. Other outcomes such as environmental preference, nature connectedness, cognitive performance received less attention, whilst others such as creativity, perceived safety, subjective vitality, and behavioral intentions were hardly investigated at all. Findings generally demonstrate a positive effect of virtual nature for its users, often comparable to outdoor nature exposure. Studies adopted experimental or quasi-experimental designs, used heterogeneous measures and often sample sizes of unknown power. Future research directions could consider uninvestigated outcomes using larger studies with adequate power and identified best practices.
Lorenzo Sallustio
added a research item
The European Union is significantly investing in the Green Deal that introduces measures to guide Member States to face sustainability and health challenges, especially employing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in urban contexts. National governments need to develop appropriate strategies to coordinate local projects, face multiple challenges, and maximize NBS effectiveness. This paper aims to introduce a replicable methodology to integrate NBS into a multi-scale planning process to maximize their cost–benefits. Using Italy as a case study, we mapped three environmental challenges nationwide related to climate change and air pollution, identifying spatial groups of their co-occurrences. These groups serve as functional areas where 24 NBS were ranked for their ecosystem services supply and land cover. The results show eight different spatial groups, with 6% of the national territory showing no challenge, with 42% showing multiple challenges combined simultaneously. Seven NBS were high-performing in all groups: five implementable in permeable land covers (urban forests, infiltration basins, green corridors, large parks, heritage gardens), and two in impervious ones (intensive, semi-intensive green roofs). This work provides a strategic vision at the national scale to quantify and orient budget allocation, while on a municipal scale, the NBS ranking acts as a guideline for specific planning activities based on local issues.
Rocco Pace
added a research item
Urban forests can provide essential environmental and social functions if properly planned and managed. Tree inventories and measurements are a critical part of assessing and monitoring the size, growth, and health condition of urban trees. In this context, the parameters usually collected are diameter at breast height (DBH) and total height, but additional data about crown dimensions (width, length, and crown projection) are required for a comprehensive tree assessment. These data are generally collected by urban foresters through field surveys using tree calipers or diameter tape for DBH and the electronic ipsometer/clinometer to measure tree height and crown size. Greater detail could be achieved using a digital instrument such as Field-Map, a portable computer station, to quickly realize dimensional and topographic surveys of trees and forest stands. Additionally, the incorporation of a LIDAR scanner into a smartphone such as the iPhone 12 Pro has made this device able to measure tree attributes as well as additional spatial data in the field. In this study, we tested these 3 different measurement systems in a field sampling of an urban forest and compared them in terms of measurable parameters, accuracy, cost, and time efficiency. Furthermore, we discussed the pros and cons of each measurement approach and how the resulted data can be used to evaluate ecosystem services of trees and provide guidance on tree management in order to reduce potential risks or disservices.
Mariagrazia Agrimi
added a research item
In central Italy, Platanus orientalis L. specimens characterize many gardens in urban and suburban villas. In this research, centuries-old oriental plane trees were studied in different historical sites of Lazio according to the COVE (COnservation of VEteran trees) multidisciplinary model. Historical sources, morphological and dendrometric aspects, crown quality, genetic traits of each specimen, as well as their susceptibility to the canker stain disease, were investigated. Platanus orientalis was clearly distinguished from P. occidentalis and their hybrid P. acerifolia through molecular tools. UPGMA analysis based on SSR and ISSR molecular markers clustered the plane trees in different sub-groups, probably according to the different sites of sampling. These findings, supported by historical and morphological data collected in the considered sites, showed that almost all the trees studied are a small remnant of those planted in the period running from the second half of XVI century to the first decades of XVII century. Plant health conditions diverge within and among the sites inspected. Past-prolonged severe pruning treatments of trees located near the main monuments affected their growth, causing faster and premature senescence. However, the management of historical gardens has so far led to an efficient prevention of Ceratocystis platani introduction, spread and establishment. This study highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to interpret the present status of the ancient tree asset within historical sites and let the past become a lesson for the future in a broader scenario of conservation and management of cultural heritage.
Annalisa Theodorou
added a research item
Previous research highlighted that the desire for neighborhood improvement is an antecedent of the citizens' involvement in green urban areas maintenance. Nevertheless, the topic of civic participation in the maintenance of green areas is not yet well developed in the literature and a link with local legislation is missing. We investigate the intention of participation in such maintenance through a web-based experiment. We hypothesize that stimuli of poor (vs. good) maintenance will be associated with a higher intention of contributing to the upkeep of green areas following the administrative barter law. The administrative barter is a law approved in Italy, which gives citizens the possibility of a reduction of local taxes in exchange for their involvement in the improvement of the territory. One hundred ninety-six participants (M age = 33.81) were assigned randomly to good maintenance condition (n = 100) or poor maintenance condition (n = 96). The level of maintenance was manipulated through photographs of a neighborhood depicting good or poor maintenance of the urban green ornamentation. Results pointed out that people showed a greater willingness to engage in the improvement of green urban areas in the poor condition as compared to the good condition, according to the administrative barter law. This study suggests that local legislation may provide an incentive fostering citizens' involvement in green urban areas maintenance.
Lorenzo Sallustio
added a research item
Multiple environmental stressors threaten the environmental quality in urban areas. Several policies were implemented in Italy to improve environmental quality, following the rationale that the more populated municipalities need high intervention priority and funds. Nevertheless, this approach not necessarily ensures to address real environmental challenges. This study aims to provide an innovative approach to explore in-terventions' priority at the national scale, based on Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) of five factors related to three environmental stressors, air pollution (O 3 , PM 10 , NO 2), thermal stress (heatwave days), and hydraulic vulnerability (flooding events). A multi-criteria analysis assessed the cumulative effect of factors by combining them into a single Aggregate Index of Challenge (AIC), and a hotspot analysis identified AIC spatial aggregation through the territory. Finally, the spatial mismatch between Italian environmental policies and the co-occurrence of factors was explored. Results evidenced EQS exceedances in the national territory of O 3 for 89%, PM 10 for 8%, NO 2 for less than 1%, heatwaves for 45%, and hydraulic vulnerability for 10%. AIC highlighted that 43% of the national surface shows the coexistence of at least two factors in EQS exceedance. Results highlighted that administrative boundaries are not sufficient to delimit an area of analysis and intervention as opposed to an evidence-based approach which seems promising for enhancing the costeffectiveness of funds allocation as well as their return in terms of human wellbeing. This study provides a novel approach to enhance environmental policies and planning, giving insight for future research, especially for Nature-Based Solutions implementation, performance, and multifunctionality.
Rocco Pace
added a research item
Urban forests can provide essential environmental and social functions if properly planned and managed. Tree inventory and measurements are a critical part of assessing and monitoring the size, growth, and health condition of urban trees. In this context, the parameters usually collected are DBH and total height, but additional data about crown dimensions (width, length, and crown projection) are required for a comprehensive tree assessment. These data are generally collected by urban foresters through field surveys using tree caliper or diameter tape for DBH, and the electronic ipsometer/clinometer to measure tree height and crown size. Greater detail could be achieved using a digital instrument as Field-Map, a portable computer station to quickly realize dimensional and topographic surveys of trees and forest stands. Finally, the incorporation of the LIDAR scanner into smartphone, as the iPhone 12 Pro, has made this device able to measure tree attributes, as well as additional spatial data in the field. In this study, we tested these three different measurement systems in a field sampling of an urban forest and compared them in terms of measurable parameters, accuracy, cost, and time efficiency. Furthermore, we discussed the pros and cons of each measurement approach and how the resulted data can be used to evaluate ecosystem services of trees and provide guidance on tree management also to reduce potential risks or disservices.
Fabio Salbitano
added a research item
Urban planning must consider the outdoor thermal comfort of city dwellers, particularly in cities where climate and the effects of climate change may severely influence human health and wellbeing in increasingly hot summers. The role of the urban forest in ameliorating this problem is decisive. The present study is based on a campaign of meteorological measurements in a large number of sites using a mobile data collection system to allow a human-centred approach. The aim is to quantify the different microclimates and thermal comfort conditions in six classes of urban morphology, discriminating landtypes with or without trees. In the case study of Florence, local physical characteristics of the sites; Sky View Factor (SVF), tree shade, ground surface cover, and canyon effect, can moderate human exposure to potentially uncomfortable thermal conditions during a typical Mediterranean summer. Significant differences in Universal Thermal Comfort Index (UTCI) were observed between treeless piazzas and streets and landtypes with trees or high height to width ratio (narrow alleys). Varying levels of SVF and tree cover in the sites allowed the construction of multivariate models, which revealed that, during common summer afternoon conditions, decreases of SVF by 12.5% or increases of tree cover by 25% can reduce the UTCI by 1°. Additionally, the total site factor, by incorporating temporally integrated sun exposure with the sky view factor, revealed itself a promising variable for future studies to use.
Fabio Salbitano
added a research item
Modern urban lifestyles have most likely generated a loss of awareness of the bio-cultural benefits derived from the presence of trees and forests in cities. The present study aimed at understanding the level of awareness and the ability to express significant relationships, both positive and negative, on ecosystem services and disservices by the citizens of a Mediterranean city where thermal comfort during the summer period can be particularly problematic. A questionnaire consisting of multiple-choice and open-ended questions was disseminated to citizens of Florence, Italy. The open questions allowed respondents space to describe what they perceive are the benefits and disbenefits of urban trees. Meanwhile, geospatial and climate data were processed in order to check the vegetation and microclimate conditions of the city areas where the 592 respondents live. The vast majority of respondents felt Florence is unbearably hot in summer with 93% agreeing the city needs more trees, and shaded places were perceived as the most important feature of urban green space. The results reveal many positive and negative associations to different species of trees and bring out a rich mosaic of perceptions towards urban green spaces and the features they contain. People are generally aware of a wide range of the benefits trees provide to communities and a good knowledge of the microclimate modification properties was revealed. Many of the popular public tree genera in the city, such as Tilia, Platanus and Pinus were favoured by residents however there was some overlap with trees that provoke negative experiences, and this information can be useful to city planners aiming to maximise ecosystem services and minimise ecosystem disservices.
Rocco Pace
added a research item
All cities globally are growing considerably as they are experiencing an intensive urbanization process that leads to high soil consumption and pollution of environmental components. For this reason, cities are required to adopt measures to reduce these impacts and tree planting has been suggested as a cost-effective strategy. In our study, we implemented for the first time in a Southern Caucasus city the i-Tree Eco model to quantify the main ecosystem services provided by urban forests. Trees in two parks in Tbilisi, EXPO Park (694 trees) and RED Park (1030 trees), have been measured, and a model simulation was performed for the year 2018. These green infrastructures store large amounts of carbon in their woody tissues (198.4 t for EXPO Park and 126.5 t for RED Park) and each year they sequester 4.6 and 4.7 t of CO2 for EXPO Park and RED Park. They also remove 119.6 and 90.3 kg of pollutants (CO, NO2, O3, PM2.5, SO2), and reduce water runoff of 269.5 and 200.5 m3, respectively. This analysis highlights the key role of urban forests in improving the environmental sustainability of the city of Tbilisi and provides important decision support for tree species selection in this geographic area.
Angelo Panno
added a research item
Specific risk attitude and risky behavior had an important boost during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this contribution, we hypothesize that access to nature during home confinement will decrease both the tendency to passive risk taking and alcohol intake. To do so, we interviewed through an online survey two samples of Italian residents during the strict lockdown due to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, in Study 1, participants were 1519 Italian residents coming from different Italian regions, whilst in Study 2, participants were 182 students at a university of southern Italy who were monitored for one week. In Study 1, the hierarchical regression analysis attested that access to nature during the lockdown mitigated the tendency to passive risk taking, over and beyond the effect of socio-demographic variables and the psychological construct of impulsiveness, an important personality correlate of risk taking. In Study 2, the hierarchical regression showed that access to green was associated with fewer glasses of alcohol drunk in a week of lockdown. This effect held over and above the effect of socio-demographic variables and the drinking behavior before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In both studies, findings confirmed the beneficial effect of access to nature in specific risk-taking domains. Theoretical future directions, as well as practical implications for the management of the COVID-19 emergency by policymakers, are discussed.
Giuseppina Spano
added a research item
Wildfires represent a natural phenomenon with detrimental effects on natural resources and human health. A better knowledge, perception, and awareness of wildfire risk may help communities at risk of exposure to prevent future events and safeguard their own lives. The aim of this study is to explore differences between individuals with and without previous wildfire experience, in terms of (1) subjective and advanced wildfire knowledge, (2) self-reported perceptions, (3) level of information, (4) self-protection measures, and (5) importance of community involvement. As a second step, we investigated differences in the same variables, focusing more deeply on a group of individuals with previous wildfire experience, classifying them according to fire-related employment (fire-related workers vs. non-workers) and wildland–urban interface (WUI) proximity (WUI residents vs. non-WUI residents). The Kruskal–Wallis test was applied to establish differences between the pairs of subsamples. Our results partially confirmed our hypothesis, that direct experience leads individuals to have a greater preparedness on the topic of wildfires. Perception of knowledge is reflected only at a shallow level of expertise, and, therefore, no relevant within-group differences related to fire-related employment or to WUI proximity were detected. Moreover, available information was perceived to be insufficient, thus we report a strong need for developing effective communication to high-risk groups, such as homeowners and fire-related workers.
Silvano Fares
added a research item
Cities are responsible for more than 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sequestration of air pollutants is one of the main ecosystem services that urban forests provide to the citizens. The atmospheric concentration of several pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO 2), tropospheric ozone (O 3), and particulate matter (PM) can be reduced by urban trees through processes of adsorption and deposition. We predict the quantity of CO 2 , O 3 , and PM removed by urban tree species with the multilayer canopy model AIRTREE in two representative urban parks in Italy: Park of Castel di Guido, a 3673 ha reforested area located northwest of Rome, and Park of Valentino, a 42 ha urban park in downtown Turin. We estimated a total annual removal of 1005 and 500 kg of carbon per hectare, 8.1 and 1.42 kg of ozone per hectare, and 8.4 and 8 kg of PM 10 per hectare. We highlighted differences in pollutant sequestration between urban areas and between species, shedding light on the importance to perform extensive in situ measurements and modeling analysis of tree characteristics to provide realistic estimates of urban parks to deliver ecosystem services.
Rocco Pace
added a research item
Trees and urban forests remove particulate matter (PM) from the air through the deposition of particles on the leaf surface, thus helping to improve air quality and reduce respiratory problems in urban areas. Leaf deposited PM, in turn, is either resuspended back into the atmosphere, washed off during rain events or transported to the ground with litterfall. The net amount of PM removed depends on crown and leaf characteristics, air pollution concentration, and weather conditions, such as wind speed and precipitation. Many existing deposition models, such as i-Tree Eco, calculate PM 2.5 removal using a uniform deposition velocity function and resuspension rate for all tree species, which vary based on leaf area and wind speed. However, model results are seldom validated with experimental data. In this study, we compared i-Tree Eco calculations of PM 2.5 deposition with fluxes determined by eddy covariance assessments (canopy scale) and particulate matter accumulated on leaves derived from measurements of vacuum/filtration technique as well as scanning electron microscopy combined with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (leaf scale). These investigations were carried out at the Capodimonte Royal Forest in Naples. Modeled and measured fluxes showed good overall agreement, demonstrating that net deposition mostly happened in the first part of the day when atmospheric PM concentration is higher, followed by high resuspension rates in the second part of the day, corresponding with increased wind speeds. The sensitivity analysis of the model parameters showed that a better representation of PM deposition fluxes could be achieved with adjusted deposition velocities. It is also likely that the standard assumption of a complete removal of particulate matter, after precipitation events that exceed the water storage capacity of the canopy (Ps), should be reconsidered to better account for specific leaf traits. These results represent the first validation of i-Tree Eco PM removal with experimental data and are a starting point for improving the model parametrization and the estimate of particulate matter removed by urban trees.
Lorenzo Sallustio
added a research item
Land Use and Land Cover Changes (LULCC) are recognized among the main drivers affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services. Especially in areas with high biophysical and socioeconomic heterogeneity, the need to find optimal planning solutions to combine human and natural systems still remains an open issue. This study aims to investigate how different planning strategies affecting the spatial arrangement of LULCC can produce different impacts in terms of ecosystem conditions in the Lazio region, Central Italy. Starting from the same LULCC magnitude observed in the past through an inventory approach, three different future scenarios to 2030 were depicted by means of the InVEST tool Scenario Generator: the “Business as Usual” (BaU) and, alternatively, one avoiding changes within the “Natura 2000″ sites (N2K) and another within the regional most “Degraded Municipalities” (DM). The ecological impacts of these scenarios were then assessed using the InVEST Habitat Quality model, adopting Habitat Quality (HQ) as a proxy for biodiversity. In order to characterize LULCC impacts at multiple scales, the assessment was carried out both at the regional level and within distinct ecological units. Independently from the spatial arrangement of projected LULCC, HQ decreased under all three scenarios. Nonetheless, HQ values varied among scenarios, highlighting a strict relationship between the spatial arrangement and the ecological impact of LULCC. Compared to BaU, alternative scenarios, as well as their combination into a “Best Scenario”, reduced negative impacts on HQ. These results highlighted the weak sustainability of pursuing with past urban planning strategies, while allowed to foster innovative planning approaches to mitigate habitats loss and degradation. The proposed methodology was effective to localize the conservation priorities as well as ameliorating the reliability of planning strategies based on their ecological performance. Furthermore, it supports the resolution of planning conflicts between contrasting demands (e.g., urban expansion vs biodiversity conservation), thus enhancing simultaneous benefits for both nature and people.
Angelo Panno
added a research item
Social distancing and confinement at home during the first wave of Covid-19 have been essential to helping governments to flatten the infection curve but raised concerns on possible negative consequences such as prolonged isolation or sedentary lifestyles. In this scenario, gardening activities have been identified as a plausible tool to buffer the mental health consequences of forced home confinements at home. In this paper, we investigate the relation between gardening and psychopathological distress during the lockdown of the first wave of Covid-19 in Italy. It is hypothesized that engagement in gardening activities promotes psychological health, through a reduction of Covid-related stress. An online survey was administered through shared using social media to N = 303 participants during the March-May 2020 lockdown in Italy, measuring Covid-19 related distress, psychopathological distress, engagement in gardening activities plus a series of socio-demographic and residential covariates. As expected, a mediation model tested using a bootstrapping procedure showed that gardening is related to lower psychopathological distress through decreased Covid-19 related distress. Interestingly, results also showed that psychopathological distress was higher for women and unmarried respondents, and negatively associated with age and square meters per person at home. The theoretical and practical implications for social policies contrasting the Covid-19 pandemic are discussed.
Giovanni Sanesi
added a research item
1. Introduction Nature-based solutions (NBS) have been defined by the European Commission as actions aiming to provide environmental, social and economic benefits through the inclusion of natural features in the urban environment. The exposure to natural environments, including NBS in urban contexts, has been associated with a large number of health benefits (Ulrich et al., 1991; Berman et al., 2008; Spano et al., 2020), particularly mental health and wellbeing among those most studied. Earlier studies on such benefits have been mainly experimental, investigating the short-term effects of brief exposure to natural environments on stress reduction and cognitive restoration (Kaplan, & Kaplan, 1989; Berto, 2005; Nilsson et al., 2010; Carrus et al., 2017). More recently, large-scale epidemiological studies have provided further evidence of the long-term effects of sustained exposure to green spaces on mental health and wellbeing throughout the life course (Hartig et al., 2014; Gascon et al., 2015; McCormick, 2017; de Keijzer et al., 2020). Several dimensions characterize the human–nature interaction. In this sense, the present Research Topic was intended to provide an overview of studies focusing on the association of exposure to natural environments in urban, peri-urban, and rural settings with psychological wellbeing and mental health from different perspectives. 2. Effects during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood Touloumakos and Barrable offered an interesting perspective on the potential protective effect of nature engagement in children with adverse childhood experiences such as family abuse and dysfunctional experiences related to poor parenting skills. These childhood experiences have been shown to produce physiological and psychological symptoms, including chronic stress, cognitive dysfunctions, psychopathologies, and cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. From an overview of published studies, a significant gap emerged in the potential therapeutic and protective effect of nature engagement (NE) in individuals with adverse childhood experiences. In this perspective, the authors suggested that NE can positively impact the physiological and psychological health of children who have experienced trauma, opening the door to the potential beneficial effects of nature inducing a retroactive effect. Inconsistent evidence has been found on the association between green space and pro-social behavior in children and adolescents. Putra et al. presented a systematic review on 15 available studies highlighting mixed findings and methodological heterogeneity. In particular, green space indicators and pro-social behavior measures varied among studies and a lack of mediators and potential confounding variables was detected. This review provides preliminary evidence on the association between green space and pro-social behavior. Nevertheless, the authors underlined the need to further develop rigorous studies in order to identify underlying pathways in this promising association and suggested considering the role of perceived quality of green space as an important variable in relation to pro-social behavior. Another neglected topic was found to be the relationship between NE and pro-social behavior among undergraduate students, a sub-population that is well known for being at high risk of stress, anxiety and depression. Sachs et al. showed that NE during childhood appeared to be positively associated with NE during college. Similarly, a pro-environmental attitude was positively associated with NE both in childhood and during college. This work enhanced the long-term effect of green space exposure during childhood also in light of the considerable decrease of time spent in nature during college. However, their study did not reveal any association between NE and stress levels, probably because, as reported by some participants, contact with nature could have been perceived as a waste of time given the many school commitments. 3. Effects during adulthood Pro-environmental behavior was also investigated in a study by Panno et al. in a sample of urban park visitors. The authors tested a novel modelling framework in which pro-environmental behavior was directly predicted by an emotion-regulating strategy (namely, cognitive reappraisal) and indirectly through the experience of "being away" when embedded in a natural environment. This study offered relevant insights on the role of cognition and perceived restorative experience of the natural environment, which together prove to significantly trigger pro-environmental choices. Although its multiple benefits are well known, direct contact with the natural environment is not always possible. For this reason, Browning et al. compared the impacts of simulated (i.e., virtual) and actual nature experiences on mood based on data from six published studies. Simulated experiences varied from looking at pictures to walking on the treadmill while watching a video of the natural environment. Results suggest a greater positive effect on mood due to the real experience of green exposure. This work also highlighted the possibility of considering valid alternatives, especially when green exposure is not possible, as in the case of recent confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Surprising findings emerged in the study results by Trammell and Aguilar. They found that natural environments could positively affect performance improvement when the required task involves a moderate attention level, while no effect was found on tasks requiring minimal or greater amounts of attention. However, this positive effect was greater in the indoor environment than in the natural environment. Physical activity, on the other hand, seemed to have beneficial effects on affect and cognition regardless of whether it was carried out in indoor or natural environments. This study suggests that a complex relationship exists between the natural environment and the benefits that cannot be reduced to the concepts of exposure and restorativeness. Other mechanisms may play a role in diversifying outcomes, including adaptation mechanisms. With regard to complexity, new theoretical insights on green space exposure and the reduction of psychosis risk have been advanced by Ebish. This perspective paper provides an overview of the unexplored role of the self and brain network interactions in the connection between green space and psychosis. This topic is of particular relevance, since psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia) have been a priority for the public health agenda due to the pervasiveness and chronicity of the disorder, high rate of hospitalizations and comorbidities, and premature mortality. 4. Conclusions This Research Topic provides a multidisciplinary perspective of the human–nature interaction throughout the life-course in association with mental health and wellbeing. The studies included in this topic have generally demonstrated potential beneficial associations; however, they have also highlighted inconsistencies in the evidence available in terms of their applied methodologies and reported findings.
Claudia Cocozza
added a research item
Drought tolerance is becoming an increasingly important criterion for the selection of tree species, especially in urban areas characterized by low water availability. Apart from drought tolerance, the introduction of non-native species should be considered for new planting programs under such conditions to enhance the resilience of urban forests. The present study is aimed at evaluating the in situ physiological responses of Magnolia grandiflora and Magnolia × soulangeana to severe drought that frequently occurs in urban environments in the Southeastern Europe. Transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, intercellular CO2 concentration, water-use efficiency and intrinsic water-use efficiency showed notable differences both between species and between the measured periods (wet and dry). Among the chlorophyll a fluorescence parameters, effective photochemical quantum yield of PS II, quantum yield of light-induced non-photochemical fluorescence quenching, quantum yield of non-regulated heat dissipation, fluorescence emission and index of susceptibility of leaves to light stress revealed significant differences both between the two species and the periods of measurements. The reduction of net photosynthesis in both magnolia species occurs as the result of non-stomatal limitation obtained by the reduction of electron transport rate coupled with simultaneous increase in intercellular CO2 concentration. Moreover, M. grandiflora was the species less vulnerable to water shortage conditions, while M. soulangeana exhibited a photosynthetic capacity sensitive to drought-induced stress. M. grandiflora can therefore be considered as a promising alternative to M. soulangeana for urban sites under the predicted climate change scenarios.
Lorenzo Sallustio
added 2 research items
Land take is one of the landscape changes with the greatest impacts on the ability of ecosystems to provide good and services for human well-being, especially in urban contexts. The urban forests planning and design enhance the sustainability and resilience of cities, thanks to the strengthening of ecological networks. Furthermore, a wide perspective and vision at national scale can improve the implementation of urban forestry initiatives at locale scale. This work presents a cluster analysis of the Italian municipalities based on their current critical issues and feasible urban forestry response, in order to facilitate the effective implementation of local scale initiatives consistent with the national objectives of urban sustainability.
Gregorio Sgrigna
added a research item
Overview on three studies about urban forest and PM capture. Wide analysisi on different related topics: dimensional distribution and chemical composition of particles, source apportionment of PM and morphological description and classification of leaf structures.
Giovanni Sanesi
added 2 research items
In a context of progressive urbanization, urban parks can play a pivotal role in carbon sequestration and stock. The study employs Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to evaluate CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions and removal by plants and soil in different urban green typologies, namely afforested areas, tree rows, social allotments, lawns, hedges, referring to a life span of 50 years. The present study aims to evaluate the carbon balance connected with planning, planting, and maintaining an urban park, the Parco Nord Milano (PNM), a green area located in the metropolitan area of Milan, Italy. The different emission data took into consideration planting and maintenance interventions, including the effects of equipment and vehicle choices, main operational activities, and the fate of vegetal residue from pruning, shrub and tree removal, and lawn mowing. The best performances in terms of CO2e balance per surface unit was obtained with tree rows and afforested area typologies (- 789 and – 527 Mg CO2e ha−1 50yrs-1, respectively), while the hedges showed the worst CO2e balance, (+ 176 Mg CO2e ha−1 50yrs-1). Different planting options, different pruning or thinning intensities or species selection can change this balance. In addition, converting residues from removed trees into wood products can improve the storage of CO2 for long periods. LCA has proved to be an effective tool to support the planning and maintenance of urban parks and the types considered. However, rational planning must also have to take into account user preferences and needs, and which ecosystem services can be maximized to ensure a better quality of life.
Claudia Cocozza
added a research item
The worldwide increase in urban and industrial areas represents a challenge for urban green management, pollutant mitigation and environmental monitoring. We propose an analysis approach for the spatial and spatial-temporal distribution of pollutants in the environment through dendrochemistry techniques, in order to gauge the value of this discipline in urban ecosystem. The proposed analysis models can be useful to evaluate significant changes in space and time related to economic activities and to describe the "impacts" of adopted strategies, as demonstrated in the case study of the opening or closure of factories, and therefore to describe the cause-effect relation connected with human activities. Trees represent a key factor for urban planning, providing a wide variety of ecosystem services including in-depth environmental monitoring, which is one of the main elements to be included in a high quality urban design. The proposed approach aims at suggesting the dendrochemistry as a novel and feasible tool definable as a cost-saving ecosystem service in the urban context.
Andy Speak
added an update
The researchers at the University of Florence have made a short video on the methodology used for investigating the relationship between tree shade and thermal comfort in the city.
The video can be viewed at
 
Giuseppina Spano
added 2 research items
In the last decades, an increasingly prominent role has been given to the motivational factors that can promote pro-environmental behavior. In this contribution, we focus on the role of the individual’s ability to shape the emotions originating from nature in engaging in pro-environmental behavior. In particular, we expect that an emotion regulation strategy as cognitive reappraisal should positively predict pro-environmental behavior, through enhanced perceived restorativeness attributed to the natural environment in terms of the experience of “being away”. One-hundred and fifteen visitors to an urban park (Parco Nord Milano) filled out a questionnaire including measures of cognitive reappraisal, the experience of “being away”, and pro-environmental behavior while in the park. Results confirmed that cognitive reappraisal was positively and significantly related to pro-environmental behavior. Importantly, the indirect effect of cognitive reappraisal on pro-environmental behavior through the experience of “being away” was significant. Findings suggest the importance of implementing interventions aimed at promoting the habitual use of cognitive reappraisal to enhance the experience of “being away” and, thus, sustain pro-environmental behavior.
Giuseppina Spano
added a research item
Recent literature has revealed the positive effect of gardening on human health; however, empirical evidence on the effects of gardening-based programs on psychosocial well-being is scant. This meta-analysis aims to examine the scientific literature on the effect of community gardening or horticultural interventions on a variety of outcomes related to psychosocial well-being, such as social cohesion, networking, social support, and trust. From 383 bibliographic records retrieved (from 1975 to 2019), seven studies with a total of 22 effect sizes were selected on the basis of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Meta-analytic findings on 11 comparisons indicate a positive and moderate effect of horticultural or gardening interventions on psychosocial well-being. Moderation analysis shows a greater effect size in individualistic than collectivistic cultures. A greater effect size was also observed in studies involving community gardening compared to horticultural intervention. Nevertheless, an effect of publication bias and study heterogeneity has been detected. Despite the presence of a large number of qualitative studies on the effect of horticulture/gardening on psychosocial well-being, quantitative studies are lacking. There is a strong need to advance into further high-quality studies on this research topic given that gardening has promising applied implications for human health, the community, and sustainable city management.
Rocco Pace
added an update
The project website is now online https://www.euforicc.it/ (in Italian)
 
Rocco Pace
added an update
Thanks to @Lucia Mondanelli for creating this beautiful project logo.
 
Lorenzo Sallustio
added a research item
In densely populated areas, essential sources of ecosystem services are represented by green infrastructure, which includes trees outside forests (TOF) that, regardless of their cover extension, are found on agricultural or urban land. This research aims to assess landscape preference for TOF along an urban-rural-natural gradient in relation to different levels of landscape heterogeneity. Analyses are based on the integration of a visual choice experiment (360 respondents) with a GIS-based landscape analysis at regional scale in a Mediterranean region in Central Italy. Main findings revealed that correlation between landscape preference and heterogeneity varies along the urban-rural-natural gradient and on the basis of the spatial configuration of the surrounding landscape. The additional value of TOF to landscape preference is closely and positively linked to the degree of landscape anthropization. Conversely, TOF contribution to landscape preference resulted negative in natural landscapes where they can be perceived as a disturbance of the wilderness. Considering the influence that landscape preference plays on cultural ecosystem services provisioning and, in turn, on decision making processes, our results can support landscape policy and planning in fostering or hampering TOF diffusion depending on the different territorial contexts. These findings endorse the importance of multi-functional approaches in future-oriented strategies, which should mediate between the human preference for TOF, their ecological role and the provision of other services.
Rocco Pace
added a project goal
Establishing Urban FORest based solutions In Changing Cities