注：原中英文全文刊发于《景观设计学》（Landscape Architecture Frontiers）2023年第1期“城市森林与全球气候变暖”。获取全文免费下载链接请点击https://journal.hep.com.cn/laf/EN/10.15302/J-LAF-1-010029；参考引用格式见文末。
Towards an Asian Forest Urbanism
Bruno DE MEULDER
在西方环境科学领域，丹麦－加拿大籍林学家埃里克·乔根森于1965年首次提出了“城市林业”（urban forestry）这一概念。三十多年后，另一个同样看似自相矛盾的概念——“景观都市主义”（landscape urbanism）也应运而生。城市林业是指“在城市发展过程中，为了充分发挥树木在提升城市物质效益、社会效益和经济效益方面的短期和长期价值，而开展的一系列树木种植和管理活动。”城市林业跳脱了对行道树、庭荫树、观赏树等单一树木本身的关注，而将整个城市的树木作为一个生态系统来考量。此外，城市林业也包含人工与自然、文明与野蛮、人造都市与自然景观等二元概念，这些概念（及其所涵盖的领域）间明确的二元性也带来了科学范式的转变。
“Urban Forestry” and Ancient City Tree Planting
In the Western world of environmental science, the term “urban forestry” was coined by Danish-Canadian forester Erik Jorgensen in 1965. More than three decades before the equally oxymoronic term “landscape urbanism,” urban forestry was defined by Jorgensen as “the cultivation and management of trees for their present and potential contribution to the physiological, sociological and economic well-being of the urban society.” It was conceptualized to address urban trees beyond the single plant (street, shade, and ornamental trees) towards an ecological community. It also confronted perceptually different realms: artificial versus natural, civilized versus wild, urban versus landscape. The explicit coupling of dichotomous notions (and the worlds they encompass) led to a scientific paradigm shift.
However, it can be argued that both contemporary disciplines, urban forestry—even forest urbanism—and landscape urbanism, resonate this paradigm shift, which in fact existed millennia before they were named. No more was this the case than in Asia, where cities and dispersed rural settlements historically developed in relation to a worldview that included geomancy (feng shui) and divination, which choreographed the activities of humankind within nature and where beliefs in land gods, river kings, and forest spirits were both practical and mystical. Vietnam’s Central Highlands’ city of Dalat, once a French hill station, is known as the “city of thousands pine trees.” Suzhou, in China, is known as “Venice of the East” and famous for its canals and gardens, yet is embedded in an equally awe-inspiring forest setting. Throughout cities in Japan, trees and “eternal forests” are venerated in relation to kodama (folkloric tree spirits) and Shintoism. Similarly, in Cambodia, both trees and water bodies are worshipped in relation to neak ta and Buddhism. Traditional Khmer settlements are structured by “wats,” forested domains that contain pagodas and other religious buildings. Traditional settlements in the Himalayas are often structured between temples, water, and sacred forests. Throughout Asia, trees and forests are celebrated through numerous rituals, poetry, literature and sacred texts, legends and myths, and folk songs.
In ancient China, The Rituals of the Zhou Dynasty (Zhou Dynasty, 1046–256 BC) verifies that tree planting and maintenance by designated officials along moats of city walls was obligatory. The book documents tree planting along riparian corridors in relation to flood protection and soil erosion, as well as the strong tradition of street planting in cities. Initially, capital city streets and imperial highways were planted to provide separated royal passage, shelter against wind, provide shade, protect roads from flooding, and perform specific visual functions. Whenever trees died, they had to be quickly replaced. “Tree plantings along city streets and country roads were considered as good moral behavior and a blessing to the local people, and state officials were always memorialized for their contribution to the construction of greenways.”
Forestry and Nation-building
In many parts of Asia, a legacy of afforestation and street tree planting was part and parcel of progressive eras of nation-building. According to Chinese American scholars Cheng Li et al., during the era of the Republic of China (1912 to 1949), the progressive leader Sun Yat-sen “advocated forestry as a means of national salvation,” linking forestry to socio-ecological justice with improved livelihoods and the key to solving natural disasters. In 1956, China promulgated a “Greening the Nation” campaign as a part of a larger social engineering and mass mobilization plans, which was complemented by concrete practices and included the dissemination of expert tree-planting knowledge to the grassroots level. Afforestation was included in the draft National Outline for Agriculture Development (1956–1967), “which aspired to plant trees along all roads, in all residential areas, near all bodies of water, and on all barren land nationwide in twelve years.” In short, forests and trees were an integral component of national development of urban dwelling environment. Xi Liang, the then forestry minister, strongly advocated large-scale tree planting to address hydrological issues (in counterpoint to huge engineering projects such as dams) and underscored the inextricable link of soil, water, and trees. Liang was heavily influenced by a strand of German “scientific forestry” which emphasized centralized management (plating and cutting) and forestry conservation as well as the pervasiveness of trees in daily life. In recent years, Chinese government has continously underscored that mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, and lakes are a community of life. The lifeline of man lies in the field, the lifeline of the field is in the water, the lifeline of the water is in the mountain, the lifeline of the mountain is in the soil, and the lifeline of the soil is in the tree. Use control and ecological restoration must follow the laws of nature. If those who plant trees only care about planting trees and those who control water only manage the water and those who protect the fields simply protect the fields, it is easy to lose sight of the other and ultimately cause systemic ecological damage.
In Vietnam, the natural environment, specifically forests and trees, plays strongly into Ho Chi Minh ideology and is still drawn upon today. Upon declaring independence from France, Ho likened the country (homeland) to its mountains, rivers, and forests. He explicitly spoke of the necessity of humankind to deeply understand nature, use natural resources economically and steward the environment. In her book, Forests are Gold: Trees, People and Environmental Rule in Vietnam, Pamela McElwee reveals how forestry, as well as its classification, was tied to regimes of power and how forests and trees are much more than ecology and biodiversity but a resource for a new society and the management of citizens.
Bianca Maria Rinaldi has revealed the role of trees and urban forestry plans in the nation-building projects of postcolonial India and Singapore. These plans were motivated by not only urban forestry’s ecological roles, but also its aesthetic and cultural aspects as related to national identities; ornamental trees accounted for a large part of afforestation efforts. Rinaldi draws attention to the key push of political leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lee Kuan Yew, and their understanding of trees as expressions of cultural differentiation and a botanical antidote to their colonial pasts—as a connection to an indigenous natural environment, much of which was felled by the colonizers (in both cases the British Empire). “Indigenous” afforestation became part of the nation-building project. The Punjab capital of Chandigarh (inaugurated in 1953) is widely known for the plan by Le Corbusier, in which the built and green structure are interwoven as warp and woof. Moreover, the plan included a Grille Arborisation which set a design framework for trees in the city structure. In this light, it is tempting to read the plan of Chandigarh as a hologram: it is an internationalist scheme for the built (which is a conventional look to the plan and is emblematic for the supposedly scientific basis of modernism); it is also a nationalist scheme that reproduces an afforested environment recreated with indigenous species (and based on traditional ecological knowledge). Anyhow, the species selection of primarily flowering trees and their composition was done by Mohinder Singh Randhawa, a local botanist and agronomist. The Chandigarh efforts indeed built on a wider importance of trees in the building of the nation—Tree Planting Week was established in 1947. In 1963, the process of urban renewal in Singapore was initiated by Lee Kuan Yew himself and included a Tree Planting Campaign with the massive reintroduction of tropical trees (not only indigenous species). By 1967, the program evolved to a Garden City mandate and a National Tree Planting Day (1971); over time the city-state has been branded as a Tropical City of Excellence, City in a Garden and most recently as the City in Nature. Masses of trees were and are literally everywhere: in housing estates, parks, along roads and camouflaging highway interchanges and bridges. In both Chandigarh and Singapore, ideal national landscapes were created by trees in the city. In a dialectic iteration between the built and natural environment, trees constructed a synthesis—a living environment that transcends culture–nature divides.
Forestry and Settlements
Settling with and within forests has occurred for millennia. Indigenous forest-dwelling communities are part of a larger set of nature-culture worldviews and narratives, all which are deeply intertwined with socio-ecologically-articulated settlement practices. And, throughout the history of urbanism, there has almost always been an interweaving of structures of plantation with urban armatures and tissues. Cities have been embedded in forests and forest tissues complemented urban fabrics.
Returning to China, from 1949 to 1976, new cities were realized (with Soviet assistance) with boulevards of street trees. The now-matured trees have become part of the rich heritage of many Chinese cities. Even in the barrack-like housing estates integrated in the “production units” (danwei), tree planting was a prominent feature. Their landscape plans might a posteriori be considered more important than their urban plans. Nowadays, mature trees are the main neighborhood quality of the remaining estates in cities such as Shanghai. Same, same and not so different can be observed in the urbanism of Seoul, Republic of Korea, well known for the drastic postwar shift made in the 1960s towards the construction of dense apartment buildings. The building of apartment estates has accelerated during the last decades, where monumental 30-year complexes have been replaced by even higher apartment blocks of 50 and more floors. In spite of such a radical typological shift and drastic density increase, what characterizes the modern postwar dwelling environments is the abundant planting schemes with trees, as if it were an unconsciously persisting tradition to combine planning with planting (trees).
Similarly, many other countries in the region have an age-old tradition to plant along roads and streets according to elaborate catalogues of infrastructure profiles. From larger scale developments to smaller allotment projects, the construction of infrastructure goes hand in hand with the planting of trees. While waiting (nowadays often in vain, given the real estate crash) for buildings to fill the allotments, trees already generate a lush living environment in the making (while cracking the sidewalks). Throughout Vietnam, from north to center to south, its cities are powerfully embedded in a majestic tropical environment with street trees often defining the reclaiming—draining, stabilizing, and creating bearable microclimates—of urban land. What applies for cities and towns, is all the more applicable for rural settlements. Settling in the quagmire of the Mekong Delta is primarily equated with the continuous weaving of an incredible lace of elongated “garden strips” (miet vuon) and filaments of various widths along (and only slightly higher than) rivers, creeks, canals and roads. Trees (including fruit trees) stabilize “highland” gardens and literally create the dwelling environment, marking a sharp contrast with seas of paddy fields (and nowadays more and more aquacultural mosaics). Although the Red River Delta might have an older and very different settlement pattern, exchanging the linear filaments for villages sprinkled as islands in the majestic floodplain, it does not make the tissue component of these villages very different from that in the Mekong Delta, with systematic presence of trees. The region hosts an abundant variety of contrasting distinctions between majestic open, seemingly empty plains, plateaus, terraces of rice culture and full (of trees) settlements.
Reimagining Urban Forestry and Forest Urbanism in an Era of Global Warming
Beyond all doubt, the earth, while being urbanized beyond any scale ever witnessed before in history, desperately and urgently needs more trees and forests, and there is a clear call for massive afforestation. Throughout history, categorical distinctions were developed and deepened between disciplines—agronomy, forestry, urbanism—to only name the three that deal with humankind’s “occupation of the world.” In this triad, forests were conceived as the most “natural,” whereas agriculture and urbanization were conventionally thought of as cultured. These distinctions dramatically widened during the industrial era and deforestation accelerated as the Anthropocene unfolded. The division of labour facilitated economies of scale and hence fuelled the modern economy. Ecology, however, rarely entered the equation, and the earth continues to suffer from a cascade of catastrophic consequences. There are numerous initiatives of course-correction, but it is evident that additional changes in approaches are necessary. Thinking and understanding must be radically altered, and a myriad of changes needs to converge into a real paradigm shift. Anyhow, contemporary transdisciplinary practices, such as forest urbanism, attempt to transcend the artificial distinctions and distant themselves from the artificial nature–culture dichotomy that has been so deeply ingrained in disciplinary practices.
As has become common knowledge, and shifting to pragmatics, urban tree canopies cool urban heat islands and offer pockets of shade, absorb carbon through photosynthesis, produce oxygen, filter air pollutants, and even dampen noise. The root systems of urban trees help regulate stormwater and slow desertification. More generally, when strategically distributed over cities, trees and urban forests can increase urban biodiversity and make place for non-human species. This opens a window of opportunity to merge the two realms of the urban and the forest—both already characterized with their own multiplicities—and to (re-)construct a world in which wellbeing for humans (for which forests and trees are of such importance) can go hand in hand with a “wellbeing of the world.” Surely in Asia, important and often pioneering stepstones have been taken into that direction, such as the Chinese government programs of ecological restoration (1970s), eco-cities (2011), sponge cities (2012), and, as a general agenda, the Socialist ecological civilization (2007).
“Forest urbanism,” formally coined as a term in 2017, goes beyond urban forestry and calls for the radical redefinition of settlement structures in relation to forests. Forest urbanism bridges landscape architecture and urbanism and reimagines land occupation to overcome the tripartite system of forestry, agriculture, and urbanization through new hybrids and occupation forms of multiplicity.
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本文引用格式 / PLEASE CITE THIS ARTICLE AS
De Meulder, B., & Shannon, K. (2023). Towards an Asian Forest Urbanism. Landscape Architecture Frontiers, 11(1), 4‒12. doi:10.15302/J-LAF-1-010029
编辑 | 田乐，王颖
翻译 | 田乐，肖杰