Hydrological services of fruit trees in gardens and urban horticulture
The numerous ecosystem services and human well-being benefits of fruit trees are widely recognised. These include food supply, aesthetics, biodiversity enhancement and environmental controls such as gas exchange, temperature regulation and water relations. Consequently, tree planting is encouraged in domestic gardens and urban areas. However, expanding urbanisation is also driving decreases in average garden size and increases in impervious areas. These changes and space limitations pose challenges in terms of tree choice and abundance, but highlight the increasing importance of species selection, aimed at maximising benefits and services to society and the environment. Furthermore, in the context of a changing climate (increasingly frequent rainfall and temperature extremes), water management considerations are key. Appropriate species and cultivar choices, as well as informed approaches to rootstock selection, canopy management (as influenced by pruning and thinning to influence canopy area and density) and water management all need to be considered, as these factors impact tree structure, vigour and resultant functioning of hydrological processes. This paper reviews a range of hydrological services potentially provided by fruit trees, and highlights examples of water-related data obtained for fruit trees growing in climates applicable to the Temperate zone. The value of field-based observations of water use under prevailing weather conditions, and the associated reference evaporation calculated according to the FAO-56 approach, are discussed and shown to provide valuable and detailed information for urban and landscape planning from a water management perspective.
Gush, M.B. (2021). Hydrological services of fruit trees in gardens and urban horticulture. Acta Hortic. 1331, 245-252
sap flow, transpiration, hydrology, ecosystem services, SUDS