Forests at the forefront – CLEARING HOUSE project one year on

11 January 2021

The CLEARING HOUSE project is a collaboration of 26 partners in Europe and China, to utilise urban forest-based solutions for rehabilitating, reconnecting and restoring ecosystems. The solutions include peri-urban and urban forests, forested parks, small woods in urban areas, and trees in public and private spaces, that help address environmental, economic and social challenges.

After a challenging kick-off year with the pandemic imbuing restrictions to on site activities, CLEARING HOUSE is a stellar example of a project that has adapted to the changing landscape successfully, transitioning many of its planned activities to collaborative online formats. The project kept actively in touch online with its cities across continents - Barcelona, Brussels, Gelsenkirchen, Krakow and Leipzig-Halle in Europe and Beijing, Hangzhou, Hong Kong – Guangzhou – Shenzhen, Huaibei, and Xiamen in China.

CLEARING HOUSE was able to host the first on-site co-design workshop in post-industrial Gelsenkirchen in September – naturally with appropriate distancing measures in place. In recent years, the Gelsenkirchen community has started implementing education for sustainable development and transforming former industrial- and brownfield sites into inner-city parks and urban forest areas. The project workshop marked the start of a collaborative learning process, gathering almost 50 committed actors from local administration, research, civil society and private-public institutions. The workshop entailed presentations from experts, followed by a collaborative exercice to map out future plans for Gelsenkirchen. Discussions ranged from what tree species should be planted, how collaboration between different stakeholders can be improved, forests role during the pandemic, management and costs of ecosystem services, urban forests as meeting places and education on the benefits of urban forests.

To build on its collaborative activities, in 2021 CLEARING HOUSE will start the development of educational packages, for students aged 10 to 14 years old. The project will actively involve teachers  to ensure educational materials are well-suited to the target group. Tto help inform the projects educational activities, take part in the on forests and trees in cities survey.

Urban Forests as nature-based solutions will be central in the coming year to help address societal challenges, improve well-being and enhance biodiversity. Follow the CLEARING PROJECT’s exciting journey here.