WHO ARE WE?
We are a group of citizens working, through education and advocacy, to maintain and increase the health, integrity and area of Guelph’s urban forest.We believe that the ecological and social benefits that trees provide offer immense value to everyone, whether the trees are on public or private property.
WHAT IS AN URBAN FOREST?
An urban forest is all of the trees and other vegetation in and around a town, village or city. Traditionally it has referred to tree-lined streets, but an urban forest also includes trees in home landscapes, school yards, parks, riverbanks, cemeteries, vacant lots, utility rights-of-way, adjacent woodlands and anywhere else trees can grow in and around a community of any size. Shrubs, flowers, vines, ground covers, grass, and a variety of wild plants and animals also are part of the urban forest. Streets, sidewalks, buildings, utilities, soil, topography and, most importantly, people are an integral part of the urban forest. The urban forest is, in fact, an ecosystem.
WHY ARE URBAN FORESTS IMPORTANT?
Guelph’s urban forest–the street trees, park trees, trees in river corridors and natural heritage areas, and trees on private land–are a valuable public asset which makes a significant contribution to the sustainability of the community, the economy and the environment.Our urban forest directly influences our city’s appeal and the quality of life of residents.
WHY ARE WE CONCERNED?
The ideal percentage for urban forest cover is 40%, yet Guelph stands at only 27.4%.More and more of our urban forest is being lost or degraded.Currently Guelph does not have an overall strategy for maintaining and increasing our urban forest cover.In addition, Guelph’s tree by-law is more than 20 years old.There are no requirements in the by-law for preserving old, mature trees or for re-establishing appropriate trees to replace those that are lost.
The connections between vegetation and human health are well documented.Uplifted spirits is one important benefit of healthy urban forests.A number of studies have shown that between 10 and 23 percent of the value of a residence is due to the trees on the property.
We are working to raise the civic priority of our urban forest.We want it to be valued for the important contributions it makes to the health of our community.
We support an urban forest model where trees have prominence in the development scheme, where they are seen as “green infrastructure,” in parallel with services, communication and transportation infrastructure, where large canopy trees are highly valued and where soil health and ecologically-based design is paramount
WHAT PRINCIPLES SHOULD GUIDE GUELPH’S URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT?
- Recognition of the importance of the health, continuity and extent of the urban forest canopy and its contributions to providing shade, clean air and water, storm water runoff reduction, energy conservation through evaporative cooling, noise abatement, and wind reduction, all of which lead to improved public health, a better living environment and increased property values;
- Support for the protection of a connected forest system of trees, woodlands and riparian areas as key features to sustain our ecosystems and their natural heritage services and values;
- Support for the value of public-private partnerships with business and nonprofit organizations in order to mobilize resources, widen funding sources and increase the understanding of the importance of trees;
- Recognition of the communal economic values that the urban forest provides for the protection of groundwater, air quality and an improved economic and social environment.
- Improved tree protection and forest restoration in developed and redeveloped areas.
- Promoting the use of native local seed stock in our urban forest to ensure its long term health.
- Encouraging and supporting neighbourhood stewardship of street trees, parks and natural heritage areas.
- Assuring that citizen input is valued and integrated into the city of Guelph’s Urban Forest Plan.
HOW CAN GUELPH BECOME A LEADER IN URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT?
We believe that to make Guelph a leader in urban forest management we need a long-term, adequately-funded urban forest master plan guided by the 9 principles above.We believe that trees provide a great many values to our citizens and the value of our urban forest should be acknowledged and preserved through all aspects of urban planning.
Guelph’s dated tree by-law also should be updated.Many cities have recently passed strengthened by-laws to protect trees, including Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, and Oakville. These cities recognize that trees moderate local climatic extremes and are important for local economies and quality-of-life benefits.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Join our mailing list
Call or email your city councillors and the mayor to support protecting our urban forest.Their contact info is available here.
Encourage your local school to participate in educational programs about urban trees and forests. See our Resource List on the sidebar at right for websites and organisations who can help.
Get to know your neighbourhood group and learn about your local parks to promote urban forest issues. See the City’s website for more information about neighbourhood groups.