Hunting for a Larger Diversity of Urban Trees in Western Europe—A Case Study from the Southern Caucasus
Henrik Sjöman, Simon Hannus, Patrick Bellan, Tinatin Barblishvili, Tamaz Darchidze, and Shalva Sikharulidze
Abstract: The primary aim of this study was to communicate a method for locating natural habitats where trees grows under conditions that are comparable to those in urban environments in terms of water stress. This is presented by analyzing five different forest reserves in the southern Caucasus (Republic of Georgia) where calculation of net water balance over the period of a year was conducted. This provided an insight into the drought at the sites during the growing season. The data were thereafter compared with similar calculations for five different cities in Western Europe in order to see if there were any matches in drought stress between the cities and the forest reserves. To extend the analysis, conditions in the five cities were assessed for high density and low density areas, and for the current climate and a future climate scenario. The comparisons revealed some matches between conditions in the forest reserves and those in different scenarios/areas in the cities. A secondary aim was to identify specific ecotypes in the wild demonstrating great potential to handle growing conditions similar to those in urban environments based on inventories of woody plants in the forest reserves. A total of 44 woody species were found in the forest reserve systems with a random distribution throughout the five study sites. Based on the commitments presented above a preliminary screening can be done where future tree selection focus can be directed towards highly promising species and ecotypes, which would undoubtedly limit the time lag before proper plant material can be released.
Keywords: Hunting for a Larger Diversity of Urban Trees in Western Europe—A Case Study from the Southern Caucasus