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Letter: Urban development is having an impact on our trees, Coquitlam forum concludes

Trees in our neighbourhoods protect us from heat domes and atmospheric rivers, the letter writers state.
From left to right, Richard Boase, Dr. Lrien Nesbitt, Amelia Needoba, Erika Mashsig and Nancy Furness.

The Editor,

Thank you to all the members of the community who came out to the first Tri-Cities Urban Forest Forum at Douglas College on March 7, 2023.

The Forum was organized by the Burke Mountain Naturalists (BMN), the Wondrous Tree Fellowship (WTF) and the Protect Coquitlam’s Urban Forest (PCUF) group.

The Douglas College theatre was packed with representatives from Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, including council members, school board, city environmental, engineering and park staff, members of environmental groups and the general public.

Urban forest management is a complex balancing act, made more difficult by the increased development going on in all three cities and the loss of many mature trees in the process.

Four expert speakers weighed in on some possible solutions:

  • Richard Boase, Environmental sustainability (operations), District of North Vancouver
  • Dr. Lorien Nesbitt - Assistant professor, Urban Forestry & Environmental Justice, UBC
  • Amelia Needoba - Principal and senior forester, Diamond Head Consulting
  • Erika Mashig - Manager, Parks & Open Space Planning, Design and Construction, New Westminster

Some takeaways:

  • The forests on Burke Mountain are important for storing carbon and offsetting some protection from climate events, but trees in our neighbourhoods do more to protect us from heat domes and atmospheric rivers.
  • One of the prime areas for creating more urban forest is on private land. Cities can help make this happen through incentives and educational programs.
  • Forest equity (trees distributed equally across the city) should be considered as cities try to increase tree canopy.
  • Some communities such as the District of North Vancouver and the City of New Westminster are making headway by updating outdated tree bylaws and regulations. They are working with all stakeholders to achieve a common goal of increasing the urban forest.

Tri-Cities municipalities are currently developing Urban Forest Management Plans. A robust Urban Forest Management Plan will help to ensure our communities enjoy the benefits of trees now and in the future.

Public awareness and engagement are key to the development of successful Urban Forest Management Plans. We encourage Tri-Cities residents to get involved.

The forum is now available to view online at Tri-Cities Urban Forest Forum.

For more information on how you can contribute to a healthy urban forest in your community, please see updates at PCUF, WTF or BMN websites and Facebook pages or contact the Tri-Cities Urban Forest Working Group at [email protected].

Together, we can make a difference.

- Lori Austin, Burke Mountain Naturalists

- Kathleen Wallace-Deering, Protect Coquitlam’s Urban Forest

- Nancy Furness, Wondrous Tree Fellowship