There’s no denying the visual majesty of trees. A lush row of maples lining your street or a natural cluster of cedars or dogwoods is a sight to behold.
But do you also know how innately crucial trees are to the health and livability of our urban environment?
The City of Coquitlam does, and it is helping maintain a healthy tree canopy locally with a special program to plant 10,000 trees, roughly double the number of trees than usual on both city and private property this year.
“Tree Spree is our tree-planting and urban forestry education initiative with our goal to plant 10,000 trees this year,” says Erin Gorby, the city’s urban forestry and park services manager.
Topping the list of the benefits of a healthy tree canopy is how it can impact the environment.
“Communities around the world are feeling the effects of climate change,” Gorby explains. “Long-range forecasts point into more extreme weather events. A robust and healthy tree canopy can mitigate the effects we feel from that extreme weather.”
For a start, the tree canopy slows down the flow of rainwater entering the stormwater system. Additionally, the shade it creates helps provide a substantial cooling effect for homes, roads and sidewalks that absorb the sun’s heat.
“Trees also clean pollutants from our air, and it’s been shown that spending time around them has a significant positive effect on mental health,” Gorby describes. “Then there’s the recreational opportunities they create.”
Gorby continues that trees also serve as a refuge and food source for urban wildlife, “those are all important reasons to have a healthy and diverse tree canopy.”
One Metro Vancouver survey showed that Coquitlam has a tree canopy covering 40% of the region. While that is considered to be in the healthy range, the city wants to maintain that by promoting tree-planting.
“We lose canopy cover annually to tree deaths as they age out or are effected by climate change, and by development,” Gorby explains. “So, we want to make sure we keep the canopy at a healthy level.”
To encourage the public to take part in promoting a healthy tree canopy the city is giving away trees at numerous public events, including Canada Day celebrations.
As well, to help boost public awareness and education, there will also be a series of “tree and nature walks” conducted by city arborists taking the public on tours of public parks to let them see and understand first-hand the benefits of trees.
For more information about improving the tree canopy and the location of free tree giveaways, visit coquitlam.ca/treespree.