I was only able to spend a day in Hanoi, Vietnam meeting with The Asia Foundation and Winrock International—the group that manages the Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program. I was impressed with the creativity of their urban forestry and mangrove forest management programs. A framework is set-up to move forward using trees as a means to protect against extreme weather resulting from climate change. The model also includes programs expected to reduce flooding, create jobs and restore habitat for marine wildlife. The teams were interested in exploring planting opportunities with the Arbor Day Foundation. The following day I was off to Singapore.
Fires from improper slash and burn practices in Indonesia filled the sky with smoke, which was hard to ignore upon arrival. Despite the haze we still managed to visit a beautiful park downtown called Gardens by the Bay. When the air finally cleared the following day I was amazed at what I saw. This small island nation has a world leading approach to urban forestry and green space management. I wish we could hold a Partners in Community Forestry Conference here because they are modeling practices and supporting urban forestry and greenling like I’ve rarely seen before.
We had a great day meeting with local parks and city forestry leaders. The National Parks Board oversees the various forestry efforts across the nation and urban forest work is largely managed by their Street Scapes Division. I visited Bishon-Ang Mo Kio Park, where a concrete canal has been transformed into a green space with trees and vegetation to manage storm water flooding.
My last day in Singapore I visited CH2MHill, a worldwide engineering and development firm that oversees billions of dollars of development in cities and towns across the globe. We toured some of their green infrastructure work and discussed how we can draw attention to trees and green development in the industry.
My last stop was in Manila, Philippines where we met with the US Embassy, USAID, local city forestry leaders, ICLEI and the Asian Development Bank. Despite spending an obscene amount of time in traffic, I was eager to learn more about the urban forestry management and overall forestry efforts in the region. Our meetings with local leaders managing the trees in Metro Manila were encouraging. My final day was met with some of the premier I-Tree users in the Philippines including university professors and industry leaders. I left thrilled about a number of potential collaboration opportunities.
My trip throughout Southeast Asia was an eye-opening experience, showing me the work still needed to improve urban forestry programs in the region and the innovative models that can be brought halfway around the world to improve our efforts here. I’m eager to see where these opportunities lead us next.
Missed the first post? Catch up on it here.