Urban Forest

Green 13’s Urban Forest Project

Trees provide many benefits in urban settings. They clean the air, reduce stormwater runoff, provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, and enhance the urban landscape. They benefit property owners by providing shade, reducing heating and cooling costs, increasing property values. And they are magnificent at sequestering carbon.

Our tree canopy is seriously challenged with several problems simultaneously: drought, Emerald Ash Borer infestation, ice storm damage… Together we can work to safeguard our urban forest.

Over the past few years, through Save Our Ash, Green 13 has been active informing our ward about the Emerald Ash Borer and what action would be necessary to save those ash trees which were still savable. During last summer's terrible heat and drought we worked with volunteers to water both street and park trees in the ward's Junction area. We raised awareness of the plight of our urban forest. Based on this experience, we are advocating for a shared protocol for the care, watering, and more of trees in the Junction. Indeed throughout the ward.

Green 13 not only offers bursaries to support public education on tree care, but also strongly promotes increased planting. 

Learn to care for trees!

Green 13 offers bursaries to take the Tree Tenders Course offered by LEAF and 1 bursary for the course on the tree inventory protocol Neighbourwoods. Recipients are asked to commit to 15 hours of service to Urban Forest Projects in our ward. Contact: green13@green13toronto.org to apply.

It’s time to replant!

Several programs exist to help replenish our tree canopy:

  • Urban Forestry plants trees on City street allowances fronting residential properties free of charge
  • LEAF (yourleaf.org) offers subsidized trees and professional guidance for backyard planting
  • TreeMobile and Tree for Me offer trees for you to plant

Call for volunteers!

The severe drought and heat of summer 2016 has taken its toll on our trees and revealed the City does not have the staff to water all our trees under such conditions. Volunteers are needed to  help reach out to possible stewards (merchants, libraries, faith communities, parks etc.) to raise awareness of the need for, and to assure, proper watering, mulching, and other tree care. Volunteers are needed to help water. Green 13 will be working with LEAF on the Adopt-a-Street-Tree program ( http://www.yourleaf.org/sites/yourleaf.org/files/aast_manual_final_jan_2017.pdf ) this summer. Contact: green13@green13toronto.org to volunteer:

1. Attend information sessions.
2. Help with social media and postering for events.
3. Help reach out to merchants, libraries, faith communities, parks, etc. to raise awareness of the need for, and to assure, proper watering, mulching, and other tree care.
4. Help water!
5. Help inventory trees. Review mapping that already exists, and help extend or update information.

In addition to volunteering as above, these are other ways to boost the health of street trees in our urban forest:
6. Work with BIAs to urge the installation of more bike racks, and to change the location of those racks which result in bikes resting on and compressing the soil at the base of street trees.
7. Work with BIAs to change the location of cigarette butt receptacles and garbage/recycling containers so they do not rest on and compress or foul the soil at the base of street trees.
8. Note placement of flower plantings with a view to assuring that trees thrive.
9. Note trees that would be candidates for depaving at their base in order to improve access to water, aeration
10. Note the presence of electrical infrastructure at the base of and along the trunk of street trees, whether it is harmful to that tree, and whether it can be removed without harming the tree.

And, to further protect and enhance our urban forest:
11. Review existing tree inventory data, and help extend it to include data on local parks, libraries, churches, residences. This tracking will better inform all involved, identify those areas which require more focused attention, and aid in identifying the actions required.
12. Promote new planting and care of trees. We have materials and organize events to support this. Currently we are promoting TreeMobile,  and on an ongoing basis free trees from the City, ( http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=a7643dfce3a0d410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD ) and private property trees through LEAF, yourleaf.org as well as Tree For Me, http://www.torontoparksandtrees.ca/Programs/Programs/Tree-for-Me  We also promote LEAF's Adopt-a-Park-Tree initiative.

Background Information on our city's urban forest

The City is aiming to increase out tree canopy to 40% cover. The benefits of trees are many, as outlined in documents such as Every Tree Counts: A Portrait of Toronto’s Urban Forest http://www1.toronto.ca/City%20Of%20Toronto/Parks%20Forestry%20&%20Recrea... Key findings include:
• Toronto has an estimated 26.6 - 28% tree canopy cover, representing 10.2 million trees.
• Of the total population, 6.1 million (60%) trees are on private property, 3.5 million (34%) trees are in parks and ravines, and 0.6 million (6%) trees are on city streets.
• Tree cover increased slightly (1.3%) between 1999 and 2009.
• Between 2004 and 2012, the City and its partners planted almost 100,000 trees per year.
• There are at least 116 different tree species in the City.
• The 10 most common species account for 57.7% of the total trees in the population.
• The urban forest provides the equivalent of more than $28.2 million dollars in ecological services each year.
• Toronto's urban forest is estimated to reduce energy use from heating and cooling of residential buildings by $10.2 million annually.
• Air quality improvements, through the interception of pollutants equals $16.9 million per year.
• Toronto's trees store 1.1 million metric tonnes of carbon, or the yearly equivalent of 733,000 car emissions. 
• The structural value of Toronto's urban forest is estimated at $7.1 billion
• The benefits derived from Toronto's urban forest exceed the annual cost of management.

The Junction has been identified as an area with among the lowest tree cover - at 6.7%, and is in great need of care and enhancement. (See City of Toronto Tree Canopy Cover by Neighbourhood map).

In addition, as in other areas of Toronto, we are also losing many of our mature trees as they come to the end of their lifetime. Other loss is due to extreme weather events (ice storm, high winds, heavy rain, drought) and pests (Emerald Ash Borer, gyspy moth…). Furthermore, our area is subject to pressures of development. We are losing green space; we must consciously care for the trees we have, both public and private, and continue to plant anew.

Acknowledging this range of stressors on our tree canopy, and in an effort to protect and enhance our urban forest,  Green 13 will continue its promotion of seasonal planting initiatives with which we have been involved in the past such as TreeMobile Toronto, and Tree For Me . We'll continue to promote both the planting of free street trees through the City, as well as the education about and subsidized planting of trees and shrubs on private property through LEAF, Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests. 

What we wish to focus on in the Junction is the enhancement of our local urban forest by engaging the community in the Adopt-a-Street-Tree initiative. Please volunteer. Contact us at: green13@green13toronto.org