Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability

City Tree Programs: Pro-active planting, private land and equity

On Tuesday June 18th, CAFES presented a public delegation to the City of Ottawa's Environment and Climate Change Committee, which met to review early actions of the City's Tree Programs.

City Forestry staff prepared a report outlining:

  1. Proposed changes to the Commemorative Tree Planting Program (to be rebranded as the “Tree Dedication Program”)
  2. A proposal to begin pro-active tree planting on the City Right-of Way
  3. A new Private Land Tree Planting Program
  4. A recommendation to conduct a comprehensive tree equity analysis to identify priority neighbourhoods using American Forestry's Equity Analysis tool.

The proposal for Forestry Services to begin pro-active tree planting on the Right-of-Way is a huge victory that CAFES has been advocating in support of for years. The report suggested these new services would include i) automatic replacing of dead or dying trees that were previously planted from the Trees in Trust program, ii) as well as identifying gaps and pro-actively planting new trees in these spaces. The report stated that 2000 new trees would be planted each year as a result of this new approach.

The new Private Land Tree Planting Program is also a big win. Prior to this, and despite the fact that trees on private land account for a enormous percentage of the overall tree canopy, the City has never had a private land planting program.

For the past two years, CAFES has organized free tree sapling give-aways over Mother's Day weekend to help increase front/backyard tree planting within the urban centre, exemplifying what a future program could look like at the municipal level. CAFES was pleased to see this new program. The report has stated that the program would distribute 1200 new trees (50 per ward) at no cost to residents, and an additional 50 trees across priority areas, which will be identified by the Equity Analysis Tool.

While this is a positive step forward, we believe more trees need to be dedicated to equity areas. A strong equity approach to tree canopy is required, and the 40% canopy target should be applied in each neighbourhood.

In-depth community engagement and stewardship is a must; residents and community groups should be consulted at every level when it comes to developing tree programs, identifying plantable spaces, caring for young trees, and managing invasive species. We would also like to see non-native species removed from Forestry's tree list.

See our presentation below and watch the full committee meeting on YouTube here!

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