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 plant!

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.

    On Monday, June 5, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Annette Library, LEAF and Green 13 will cohost an information/training session for volunteers. The severe            drought of last summer has taken its toll on our city trees, street trees in particular. Come learn how you can help to assure better care of our Junction trees, by way of the Adopt-a-Street-Tree program. Learn how you can be part of the outreach team, engaging locals to adopt a street tree. More infor at yourleaf.org/adopt-street-tree  . RSVP by emailing rita@green13toronto.org .

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.

     Our first blocks of time set aside for reaching out are:

          Tuesday, June 6 '17        2-4 pm

          Wednesday, June 7 '17   2-4 pm

          Friday, June 9 '17            2-4 pm

          Tuesday, June 13 '17       2-4 pm 

      Other times and days may be added once we are together at the information/training session of June 5 '17.   

4. Help water!
5. Help inventory trees. Review mapping that already exists, and help extend or update information.

      Our first block of time reserved for the tree audit in the Junction is Monday May 29, 2-4 pm. meet at Cool Hand of a Girl Café, 2804 Dundas St. W. (E of Keele) at 1:45 pm. If we don't complete the audit that day, we will resume Tuesday, May 30, 2-4 pm. Check back here for the meeting point.

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&%20Recreation/Urban%20Forestry/Files/pdf/E/every_tree_counts.pdf    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


Update written June 11 '17

1. Some volunteers have taken specialized training - e.g. LEAF’s Tree Tenders course, or the Neighbourwoods course (N.B. Green 13 offers a bursary for this if you are interested in taking it.), and boosted our collective knowledge.

2. On May 29 volunteers updated the tree audit for Junction street trees. We learned that compared to this time last year, sadly, a significant number of the trees - 25% - have perished and been replaced. If a vigorous plan to water street and other trees had been in place before last summer, we would have been better prepared to respond to our street trees during the drought last summer, and more would have survived.

3. The evening of June 5 we held our information/training session.
• Erin MacDonald from LEAF (yourleaf.org) presented background information on Adopt-a-Street-Tree projects on the Danforth and in Bloordale, and training for the Junction Adopt-a-Street-Tree project.
• Christine Sweeton, the new Executive Director at the Junction BIA shared tips on canvassing local merchants, and explained she would be emailing members of the BIA to inform them about the Junction Adopt-a-Street-Tree project, and invite them to adopt the tree in front of their establishment.
• Rita Bijons explained that Green 13 has been involved in various other projects caring for our urban forest over time - canvassing on the Emerald Ash Borer, promoting tree planting - both on private and public spaces, making grants available for the acquisition of knowledge (tree care, ID, inventory).
• We set up the initial canvassing schedule.

4. As of June 6, volunteers began outreach to local merchants. As a result of our canvassing and Christine’s email, so far at least 35 street trees have been adopted.
We continue to canvass, particularly during this week, and have already confirmed a canvass session this coming Wednesday, June 14, 5-7 pm.  We meet at the office of the Junction BIA, 396 Pacific Ave., Suite  205 right at 5 pm.
If you would like to come out to canvass, please indicate your availability in the “doodle" below. If you have never filled in a doodle before, all you need to do is click on the link, type your name into the slot on the left side, then check off each of the times that would work for you. Once you’ve completed this, be sure to click the “Save” button on the bottom right to save your entries. http://doodle.com/poll/x8qkh62vzz3a2mbm

For more information and to get involved, contact: junctiontrees@gmail.com
Please be sure to provide your email address to the team at junctiontrees@gmail.com so they will keep you confirmation of canvassing blocks.

5. On June 24, we will have a table at the Junction Solstice Festival. By then we will know which trees have already been adopted by members of the JBIA, and we will know which trees therefore still need adoption. They will be available for adoption by members of the public. That same day we will be delivering a complimentary watering can to each of the members who have adopted a street tree. We welcome volunteers to staff the table that day (from noon on, hours to be confirmed).
We also plan to host one or two tree tours that day, 2 pm, 4 pm (to be confirmed). Volunteers are welcome! Come on down!

6. Depending upon tree adoptions and rainfall we will figure out the need and schedule of local watering teams. If you have not yet indicated your interest in watering, please let me know, rita@green13toronto.org

7. FYI   Each business which adopts a tree will receive a decal which indicates they have adopted the street tree in front of their business.They will also receive a coroplast  sign for the tree that identifies the species and acknowledges who is caring for the tree.


Update on Junction Adopt-a-Street-Tree Project       dated August 29, 2017

     We are making good progress through the Junction Adopt-a-Street Tree Project!  Compared to last summer, when no one had formally ‘adopted’ street trees in the Junction, now over 90 trees have been adopted. Those businesses or individuals adopting a street tree have committed to providing their adopted tree 2 deep waterings each week — i.e. 30 litres at a time, twice a week. Deep watering encourages the tree to send its roots down to seek water deeper in the soil, develop a hardier root structure, and therefore greater resilience.
     Street trees are among the most vulnerable trees in our urban forest. Besides having to contend with a severely limited volume of soil, they contend with air pollution, debris obstructing the surface of the soil, compaction of soil, and very limited water. Even when it rains, we cannot presume that the rain reaches the limited patch of soil at the base of the tree; the tree canopy may deflect the water on to surrounding pavement and concrete, and the rain water may not reach the soil.
     This link https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1IlpVUlEvqsp_wRAEJt9_XB1onwk&ll=43.66510969169625%2C-79.46552886830057&z=19
shows in green which trees have been adopted, in black which trees are yet to be removed, and in red those which have not yet been adopted. If you are able to adopt a tree, please contact: junctiontrees@gmail.com
Those who adopt a tree are eligible to receive a free watering can to water their adopted tree.
     At this time, August 29, there are still 36 trees which have not yet been adopted, 36“orphan” trees. We have drawn up watering routes to assure the watering of these trees. The best times to water are early morning, and in the evening. If you are able to volunteer to help water these "orphan" trees, please contact: junctiontrees@gmail.com  or leave a message at (416) 766 6331.

     The drought of last summer resulted in 25% mortality of our Junction street trees. A recent “Neighbourwoods” assessment, conducted late July, indicated that:
62% of the trees showed good health
27% of the trees showed fair health
6% of the trees showed poor health
5% of the trees were dead, and have been reported to the City for replacement.
Your adoption of a street tree is really important as we try to improve the health of these trees, and with your care we will definitely have a positive impact on tree survival along our streets. Hopefully more of these trees will improve to “Good” in the next few years.

     As a result of Junction Adopt-a-Street-Tree Project, and the fine collaboration of Green 13, LEAF, the Junction BIA, with the support of the City of Toronto and the Canadian Tree Fund, with the generous financial support of the Junction Residents’ Association and of the Toronto Field Naturalists, with the care by adopters who water diligently, and with the remarkable volunteers who come out to water “orphan” trees, we are in a much better position this summer as compared with last summer. Never again should we see 25% street tree mortality in the Junction.  Community support and engagement benefits all of us - people, bees, birds,... our whole community -

The following watering tips are provided courtesy of LEAF, Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests:

When Should I Water?
Although it’s been a relatively wet summer, it’s important to remember that not all of that water is reaching your tree’s roots! A lot of the water ends up being intercepted by the leaves or runs off the pavement into the road before infiltrating into the soil. The standard watering twice a week with 30 litres of water per watering is the best schedule to go by, but to make sure your tree’s soil has the right amount of water, you can feel the soil around the base of the tree - if it is hot, and dry a couple centimeters down, the tree needs water. Trees with a larger volume of soil may require more than 30 litres of water at a time.

Thank you for caring, and making a stroll down the street a better experience for all.
Happy watering!