Working Together for a Resilient Urban Future

3–4 February 2021

EVERY three years, the Institute of Chartered Foresters joins with academic institutions and partners in the built environment sectors to host an acclaimed cross-discipline conference on urban green space and green infrastructure.

Trees, People and the Built Environment 4 will provide a platform for researchers and practitioners from across the globe to showcase their work in the built and natural environment. It takes place at a time when the positive benefits of trees are high on both political and social agendas – increased interest in trees as part of the fightback against climate change means urban foresters, landscaping professionals, architects, town planners and more must come together to deliver against sustainable development targets and ensure we progress effectively towards a carbon-neutral world. The ongoing global pandemic has also brought into sharp relief the importance of our urban spaces and how we use them for both work and recreational purposes.

TPBE4 could not be more timely – now is the time to reflect on the role of urban trees so that we can, through research and practice, demonstrate that they are part of an integrated urban system within a much greater global ecosystem.

Taking place entirely online, this won’t be your typical 2-day conference – the ICF is offering a variety of innovative ways in which to engage with your fellow delegates and conference speakers.


The key to any successful conference is creating a genuine partnership between the speakers and delegates. How do we build resilience in the urban environment? What truly novel ideas, solutions, techniques can contribute to resilience and better urban settings?

The #YourBigIdea session at #TPBE4 will encourage delegates to put forward their own big idea for change by creating a framework for action. The ICF wants to take advantage of knowledgeable delegates whose shared expertise can accumulate, evolve and develop. The session will also help highlight the most important issues for natural and built environment professionals today.

Delegates will be able to submit ideas in advance of the conference and an expert panel will create a shortlist for delegates to vote on. The five most popular ideas will be presented during the final session on Day 2 and discussed by the panel. This is a great opportunity for cross-sector professionals to make an impression on the audience and connect with a wide range of their peers.

“Trees, People and the Built Environment has become one of the world’s leading events for those of us working with trees, forests, parks, and other vegetation in cities and towns. I am delighted to be a part of this important conference.” – Professor Cecil Konijnendijk.

Renowned worldwide for his knowledge on the role of trees and greenspace in cities and towns, Professor Cecil Konijnendijk, director at the Nature Based Solutions Institute, will act as chair for the #YourBigIdea session.

PROFESSOR ALAN SIMSON chair of TPBE3 and speaker at TPBE4, outlines the importance of cross-sector collaboration …

I think it is beginning to be accepted by professionals in the built and natural environments that none of us individually have the answer to how we plan and design our viable urban futures. So many of the promises that urban design promoted in the late 1980s and 1990s have not been realised, and the quality of life in our urban areas is static at best, and even declining in many places. Conferences like #TPBE that intentionally set out to appeal to a wide transdisciplinary audience are therefore invaluable in setting the agenda for greener and more sustainable urban futures.

White Rose Forest, of which I’m chair, is a local authority-based joint venture that covers the Leeds city region. Our collective aim is to increase tree cover by a third in our part of Yorkshire. We will do this by working with landowners, community groups and businesses.

Green Streets is the name of one of our main projects, initially focused on providing attractive green public transport corridors connecting areas of deprivation to areas of job growth across West Yorkshire.

We soon realised, however, that streets play a crucial part in the social health and well-being of all communities, and thus expanded our mission to plan, design, implement and manage a much broader trans-disciplinary remit to bring a critical infrastructure approach to the public realm.


Speaker and CEO of Green City Watch, previews her presentation ahead of the conference …

TPBE attracts foresters, arboriculturists, architects, planners, engineers, and academics from across the globe. I look forward to introducing the Internet of Nature, showing the value it can bring and inspiring this interdisciplinary group to grab hold of the potential that emerging technologies can offer this sector. The Internet of Nature will provide ecosystem intelligence to design, manage and connect urban ecosystems like never before. Together, we can disrupt urban forestry to build truly resilient cities.

My PhD in Ecological Engineering keeps me at the forefront of urban techno-ecological research. Studying the complex but meaningful potential between urban ecology and emerging technologies drives me to implement these ideas into practice. My research uses soil respiration sensors as a proxy to measure tree-microbial associations across the urban forest, an attempt to track the urban ‘wood wide web’. Our work at Green City Watch allows us to bring the latest advancements in very high-resolution remote sensing to arboriculturists and foresters, to monitor and maintain a healthy urban canopy.

When charting the history of urbanisation, it is clear that humans have always been attracted to sites with a great natural variety in plants and animals. Urban development, on the other hand, is often regarded as a blank canvas, when in fact, it’s more like a finished landscape painting. We must consider the natural ecosystem cities are built on, and rely on, if we’re to build truly resilient cities.

Trees, People and the Built Environment 4 takes place on 3–4 February 2021. For more information, please click here.

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