In a report to General Committee, Forestry staff confirmed the City’s tree canopy cover is at 19 per cent in 2014, a 4 per cent increase over the 2011 estimate of 15 per cent.
“An urban forest is important to the health and quality of life in the city,” said Gavin Longmuir, Acting Director, Parks & Forestry. “There are economic and environmental benefits to an urban forest including absorbing pollution, saving energy, stormwater management and adding beauty to our neighbourhoods.”
Longmuir explained the City’s Urban Forest includes trees on both public and private property; it is comprised of trees, shrubs and the soils that support them. The City is committed to maintaining and growing city-owned trees on streets and in parks and woodlots. This is achieved through the regular maintenance of city-owned trees and the City’s planting programs, including One Million Trees.
This study was completed as the first step in implementing the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP). The UFMP was completed in 2014 as the City’s response to the challenges facing the City’s Urban Forest. A key part of the UFMP is to monitor the status of the urban forest through analysis of the urban canopy.
The long-term impact of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) on the tree canopy was not included in the study. However, the study does include the effects of the 2013 and 2014 EAB work, Asian-Long Horned Beetle tree removal and the 2013 Ice Storm.
“With continued maintenance and planting of new trees, it is estimated that over 10 years the urban tree canopy will grow by 3 per cent bringing the total tree canopy coverage to 22 per cent,” said Longmuir. “However, with the long term impact of EAB and climate change unknown at this time, the City will continue to work towards the 15 to 20 per cent goal for tree canopy cover.”
For more information about the City’s tree planting programs, go to onemilliontrees.ca.