Urban Forestry in the City Of Toronto
Urban forestry in the city of Toronto entails all trees of different species that have been grown within the boundaries of the city. The vegetation or trees that comprise the Toronto urban forestry are beneficial in many ways that encompass economic, cultural, social and ecological benefits. Moreover, the trees are useful in regulating air pollution and saving energy (because of moderating home and building air temperatures). The aforementioned value alone is pertinent to the city because it helps the government to save about $28million every year, which can potentially support other sectors of the economy and lead to the development. Notably, other benefits necessitate forestry in the city such as air quality improvement, natural cooling, physical health advantages and the aesthetic value that people derive from having trees in the surroundings or neighborhoods. Indeed, the city of Toronto’s government understands the substantial benefits both social and economic that an urban forest can draw to the town and has implemented a policy to foster its growth.
Forest Composition and Distribution
In terms of the spatial distribution, Toronto’s forest cover or canopy occupies about 18000 hectares. The extensive forest canopy thrives from approximately 10.2 million trees. In other words, the percentage of forest canopy in the city of Toronto is about 28%, a figure that attests to the fact that forestry is an essential practice in the area. Alternatively, 6.1 million trees thrive on private lands, 3.4million trees grow in natural areas and city parks while about 590000 trees thrive in the streets of the city. Specifically, the government of the town of Toronto values species richness, which explains the existence of 115 different tree species in the city. Agreeably, there are numerous challenges of growing trees in an urban setting because of the continuously growing population. Besides the challenges, the government of Toronto has drafted policy guidelines aimed at maintaining the forest canopy in the city in good condition.
Need for Toronto city forest policy
Admittedly, the government of Toronto city is cognizant of the usefulness of urban trees and the benefits that forestry has offered throughout the past decade. In this regard, the government has enacted by-laws, tree related policies and strict guidelines that enhance forest establishment and prevents encroachment or destruction by human beings through different processes such as building and construction. The milestones to safeguard forestry dates back to the year 2004 when the city council adopted a policy to increase the extent of the town tree canopy to about 40%.During the same year, there was a firm undertaking to grow city trees in an attempt to realize social, economic and ecological benefits derived from urban forestry.
Noticing that forests play an essential role in the urban setting, the government of the city of Toronto has a strategic management plan for forests, which is a blue print providing future and present practices for urban forestry. Typically, the forestry management blue print document is centers on technical data collected through historical studies. In essence, the plan provides guidelines for forest administration in the future and redrafting of such guidelines is expected to occur after every ten years. Notably, these guidelines are built on the 10-year vision, strategic goals and a package of programs that are geared to addressing major management huddles in Toronto’s urban forestry. Pertinently, the plan is adaptive, and this allows for swift response technological advancements and changes in future urban forestry threats. Moreover, the government policy comprises of detailed and concise monitoring procedures with distinct occasional success criteria that do not interfere with the ongoing evaluation of the city forest canopy.
Noticeably, the plan identifies both short-term and long-term comprehensive actions that will be essential to the success of establishing a stable forest in the Toronto city. In the short run, the policy guidelines encompasses actions such as community outreach and creation of awareness, use of specified performance attributes, identification of environmental management priorities, tree growing and establishment and forest analysis for management planning. The long-term guidelines centers on systematic planning that focus on sustainability. Some of the actions projected in the long-term forest management borders on increasing canopy cover, enhancing equity in the distribution of the canopy, reducing invader species and increasing tree biodiversity to expand the scale of benefits. Essentially, the parks and forest division departments are essential to the implementation of both the shorter and long-term policy actions.
Function of the Urban Forestry Branch
The government policy on stipulates the role of the urban forestry department and set clear guidelines for a series of activities geared towards the accomplishment of a stable urban forest canopy. Noticing that forest establishment and protection of existing forest cover are inseparable there are a number of steps set out to achieve an equilibrium between newly planted trees and the number of existing trees in order to attain a stable city vegetation condition. Firstly, the forestry policy emphasizes on the maintenance of the existing urban forests. In essence, managing the already existing trees is crucial to ensuring public safety and sustainable urban forest. Specifically, the policy paper outlines stringent measures for forest maintenance that borders on pruning, tree removal, pests and disease control and risk management. In addition, silvicultural practices such as selective burns are pertinent to the management of species' composition. Moreover, the government has set regulatory measures to reduce clearing of trees to pave the way for construction. When proposing a building project, for example, developers must issue a formal application to the city having a report from an arborist that must include a preservation plan for trees on the site of construction.
Secondly, the city government implements a plan seeking to expand the forest. Primarily, planting new trees in the city is one of the key ways of increasing forest cover. Urban forestry department in collaboration with different partners ensures that all tree-planting opportunities are tapped. Moreover, there are diverse efforts to improve planting conditions in an attempt to provide planted trees with the nutrients essential for healthy growth such as oxygen, water, and soil quality. Alternatively, introduction of many species is one of the ways, which the government uses to overcome some threats of the urban environment such as pollution and poor growing conditions.
Municipal and Provincial Policies/ Legislation
In Toronto, the city’s formal plan provides high-level policy directives regarding urban tree planting, protection, and removal. Notably, the policy guidelines stipulate a framework targeting systematic development in the city with the natural environment given conservative priorities. The city’s present plans, for example, constitutes of directives and by-laws to safeguard Toronto’s natural heritage as well as protection of remnant trees and forests.
At the provincial level, the Ontario Planning Act is a pertinent vehicle for implementation of the protection of the natural heritage forestry systems. For example, section 2(a) of the act stipulates that planning and approval authorities have a mandate comprising “the protection of natural areas, functions and features and the protection of ecological systems”. Precisely, the endangered species Act is in effect at the provincial level and is pertinent to the protection of particular tree species in Toronto city.
Forest Health Threats
At the present, the most severe threat to the establishment of urban forest is the pest called Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).In essence, this pest poses a danger to the urban forest because it is estimated that Toronto could lose 859000 Ash trees or even 8.4% of the whole tree population. As such, the city government strategic management demands that forest health issues be addressed through partnerships with different agencies. While there is no sure way to eradicate the pest, the Toronto city government has made some milestones in managing the devastating pest through injecting trees using TreeAzin pesticide.
In another approach towards improving, the health of the forest city adopted an integrated pest management program to deal with the outbreak of yet another dangerous pest- the European Gypsy moth. During this period, the government implemented both ground and aerial sprays to control the danger posed by this destructive pest. Besides, other control measures given priority in the management of forest health include tree banding and vacuuming of eggs to hinder pest multiplication.
Climate Change Impacts
The exact effects that climatic pose to the city forest are not precise. However, mitigation implications and effects on necessary resources are predictable, a situation that calls for prior planning and implementation of strategies to mitigate and adapt to the changes in climate. The actions involved in managing the effects of climate change on the Toronto city forest are many and diverse. Some of the approaches include planting resistant varieties, preserving native species and promoting new methods of tree planting.
Recreational Pressures in the Urban Forests
Typically, recreational pressures degrade the natural environment, and this causes severe impacts on sensitive native tree species. In essence, efforts to minimize the damage caused by recreational pressures on the natural environment are rendered ineffective by the following challenges:
- Limited public awareness about the sensitive nature of natural environments
- Inadequate recreation opportunities in the city, which lead to overuse of some parklands
- Inadequate trail infrastructure to restrict recreation activities from the sensitive areas
In an effort to manage recreational pressures, the city council has enacted by-laws that restrict inappropriate uses of forested sites. In addition, partnerships with different agencies to expand and mange forests and tree species in the city are another approach that is aimed at minimizing recreational pressures. Furthermore, the government supports specific programs that enhance garden education and naturalization to create public awareness on the benefits and sensitivity of forests to degradation processes.
The natural areas surrounding the Toronto city provide the essential grounds for the establishment of forest canopy. In addition, a series of clustered trees along the streets of Toronto or among private land use, types such as industrial, residential and commercial areas provide an essential element of the urban forestry. While the forests are important to ecosystem balance, the trees are a valuable resource for the community living, working or playing in the city. However, in an urban environment key strategies are essential to curb the challenges that pose a danger to the establishment of trees and the entire urban vegetation. Because of these challenges, the city forests need sound management in order to withstand different pressures. Moreover, it is essential for the city workers, and residents participate in the implementation of the government policies to ensure that such forests and their benefits are protected and used on a sustainable basis. Therefore, the implementation of the forest policy reveals that the city of Toronto’s government understands the substantial benefits both social and economic that an urban forest can draw to the city.
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