According to a report made by the City of Melbourne’s future urban forest, at least 20% of the 375 existing tree species within the city are vulnerable to rising temperatures. The horticultural research of Melbourne University revealed that the city’s mean annual temperature of 16.5 degrees has increased by 2 degrees since 1950. Temperature increases have a negative impact on trees.
Many of the cold climate European deciduous trees that include the silver birch, Dutch elm, Scots pine and European beech are existing at the upper limits of their temperature range. It is not only the exotic trees that will be impacted by a warmer climate in Melbourne. Eucalypts have a narrower temperature range and they are likely to struggle at higher temperatures together with the blue gum and rough barked Manna gum.
Conservative estimates suggest a 0.8 degree increase in mean annual temperature by 2040, making 35% of the trees species highly vulnerable. By 2090, the number of trees that will be affected by the predicted 3-degree temperature increase will rise to more than one half or 62%. Horticultural researcher Dr. Dave Kendall said the trees in Melbourne could not tolerate a temperature range of around 8 degrees. The current 2-degree increase already accounts for 25% of the margin of certain tree species. From the report, it is clear that Melbourne is too hot for some types of tree species.
For example, the silver birch and snow pear that originated from Europe and some parts of Asia will not survive in high temperature. Most Australian native trees will survive higher temperatures but they are vulnerable when the temperature is low. The research if applied will guide countries in urban forest planning. It can also be the basis for decisions on what trees should be planted now to ensure that urban forests will thrive in the future.
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