International Global Citizen's Award

encouraging young people to become better global citizens

Urban forests - and how we can do our own bit to bring nature into schools.

Urban forests

March 2021


Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), Milan, Italy - Verdict Designbuild

The Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) in Milan, designed by Stefano Boeri. (


Being confined during the pandemic, many people have found greater connections with the natural world around them. This applies to people in cities, who have given more attention to birds, other animals and plants in gardens, parks and wild spaces, as well as to people living in the countryside.


The benefit of contact with the natural world for individual human well-being is reinforced by the beneficial impact of plants on the air we breathe, carbon dioxide levels and on the environment more generally. We are increasingly aware that animals and plants in towns and cities are important parts of our biosphere. And the survival of wild plants and animals may depend upon the populations living close to humans in towns and cities.


This all relates to a growing interest in “urban forests” - the trees and associated plants and animals that we find in our towns and cities. As well as recognising the importance of existing trees, people are looking to expand or develop our urban forest by additional planting.


There are some spectacular projects to add to the urban forest (for instance in Milan, above). But increasing the urban forest  does not have to be on a large or spectacular scale. The Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki has advocated planting native plant species in cities, even on small patches of land. Read more about this initiative at:


As schools resume normal teaching after the pandemic, wouldn’t it be great if they played their part in expanding the urban forest by setting aside a small area of the school grounds for planting of native species. This would provide a better environment for everyone at the school as well as having an impact on the global issues of loss of biodiversity and air pollution. A great environment and resource for teaching too.

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