Management of Urban Forests to Maximize Benefits and Reduce Risks

There are several tools and strategies that can be used to help communities enhance the values in their urban forest and address some of the challenges.

Two Guides have been produced that outline tools and strategies for urban forestry as well as how to use urban forestry to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Planting our Future: A Tree Toolkit for Communities was developed in conjunction with a tree planting program of the BC government to reduce greenhouse gases. While the funding program has been completed, the Guide provides information, including an overview of the tools and strategies to help communities enhance the value of their Urban Forests and to address challenges that they may be facing. 
Planting our Future includes information on the community, residential, environmental and health benefits of trees. The guide also covers issues and challenges with strategies to address key areas. The key areas are: conserving existing treed environments, preparing and enhancing the urban forest for the future and increasing understanding and support for urban forests. The guide also provides twelve urban forestry goals.
Urban Forests: A Climate Adaptation Guide was developed as a companion piece to Planting Our Future, to help communities prepare their urban forests for the impacts of climate change. 
The Guide outlines changes to communities and forests as a result of climate change, addresses sixteen topics to help use urban forests as a way to adapt to future climate changes, suggests  fifteen ways to adapt the forest so it survives and thrives and provides five quick ideas to get started.

Community Examples

  • The Central Okanagan Regional District used ecosystem mapping (TEM) to prepare a Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory. This was used as a basis for identifying development permit areas and setbacks around riparian areas and other sensitive ecosystems including woodlands and forests.
  • The City of Kelowna has a Neighbourwoods program to fund tree planting on private property. Residents can buy a $100 tree for about $30.
  • The District of Chetwynd has been given thousands of seedlings by the local sawmill which will be planted by community groups, businesses and residents as well as staff.
  • The City of Victoria has grown ornamental banana trees for many years. In 2010, for the first time, a banana tree growing in the greenhouse blossomed and produced fruit, likely due to the previous summer’s heat wave. The City of Victoria also allows the growing of food in city boulevards (with permission). The tree canopy in the Greater Victoria area stores an estimated 3 million tonnes of carbon and sequesters an additional 23,000 tonnes each year.

Bylaws and Incentives Examples

  • The City of Vernon prohibits damage or destruction of any tree over 8 cm at diameter breast height without a permit to do so. Hazard trees that are endangering people or property may be removed without a permit.
  • The District of Highlands prohibits the cutting of more than two trees per year where slopes are greater than 30% in order to protect steep slopes.
  • In the City of North Vancouver, trees will not be removed to create view corridors (although judicious pruning may be allowed), to reduce shade or due to nuisance factors (e.g., seeds, leaf litter). Tree removal petitions can be considered by the City if all neighbouring property owners are in support.

More Resources

  • Tree Canada is a not-for-profit, charitable organization that provides education, technical assistance, resources and financial support through working partnerships to encourage Canadians to plant and care for trees in an effort to help reduce the harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Evergreen Native Plant Database offered a detailed list of native species that includes information on average heights and spread of plants, as well as their sun, soil and moisture needs and their wildlife value. The database will be retiring on May 31, 2018