Thursday, March 10, 2016

A healthy urban forest is one of the keys to addressing the impacts of climate change

It should come as no surprise that urban trees are important to the economic, social, and environmental success of a community. While urban trees have been an important part of most municipality for a long time, there benefits are now only starting to be quantified.

For example, the City of Surrey is working on a draft Shade Tree Management Plan. They found that for every $1.00 invested into urban trees, $3.18 is returned in benefits such as energy savings, carbon sequestration, air quality improvement, storm water management, and increased business. Urban trees are also important in mitigating the impacts from climate change.

Metro Vancouver has recently released a new design guide for municipalities called “Design Guidebook – Maximizing Climate Adaption Benefit with Trees”.

Urban trees help regulate temperature which reduces the urban heat island effect, and the variability in temperate due to climate change.

As weather events become more common, a robust urban forest will help manage storm water while improving water quality. Trees also provide a wind buffer, and help control erosion.

Of course, a healthy urban forest also improves air quality and removes carbon from the atmosphere.

The guidebook contains examples on how to manage a health urban forest. The follow examples are from the guide.

Example planting of urban trees along a major road. Select image to enlarge.

Example planting of urban trees along a minor road. Select image to enlarge.

Example planting of urban trees in a surface parking lot. Select image to enlarge.

While almost all municipalities have been planting trees for years, many of those trees planted have not been ideal. Some trees planted were of the wrong type, or were planted in such a way that they won’t be able to adapt to the changing climate.

It is good that Metro Vancouver has put out this document to help municipalities in the region plant a healthy urban forest that will deliver the most benefit to the region.

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