The Role of Trees and Forests in the Earth’s Climate System

Frederik Vroom, Carbon Manager, Tree Canada

At Tree Canada we celebrate the beauty and influence of trees on our urban living environment — but trees and forests also play a crucial role at a global scale. Our planet’s climate is directly influenced through the composition of the atmosphere.

In 1897,a Swedish professor called Arrhenius tried to find an explanation for the ice ages and was able to prove that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere explained the variation in climate on our planet over time, what we call “ The Greenhouse effect”.

Since then scientists have been able to collect data and refine their understanding of how our planet and its climate has evolved. One of the main influences on the Earth’s climate is the carbon cycle. The carbon cycle consists of the carbon stored in soils, the Earth’s crust (including fossil fuels), vegetation, oceans, atmosphere and exchange of gasses between these so-called carbon pools.climate-change

Over the last 5000 years, humans, through their activities, have influenced the atmosphere by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide. Through land use and the burning of fossil fuels we annually played a small but significant part in changing the composition of our atmosphere; however, the use of fossil fuels is not the only reason for human induced increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Collectively, humans have also removed large amount of forests and converting them to grass and cropland. Scientists estimate that 33% of all greenhouse gas emissions that are attributable to humans come from land use conversions. At the moment 12.5% of annual human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are from land use[2].

By understanding the problem – that an increase of carbon in the atmosphere results in higher global temperatures distorting our climate and ecological processes – we can also find solutions.

We must reduce our emissions from all sources: by using less fossil fuels and stopping the conversion of our forests[3] to pasture and cropland. But we can also work on increasing and restoring the carbon accumulated in forests. Reforesting areas previously used for agriculture or uncultivated land will sequester carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the trees and soils. Not only does this contribute to reducing the carbon content of the atmosphere it will also provide the other valuable benefits of forests including: water retention, reduction of atmospheric pollution, provision of animal habitat, and rebuilding of soils.

Tree Canada believes it is important to share and spread the knowledge of the important role of our trees and forests. National and international programs are being developed to support better land use and protection of carbon stocks[4][5].  Tree Canada has developed a program to help establish forests and to increase sequestration as part of the solution.

Our Grow Clean air program provides individuals and organisations an opportunity to contribute to this effort. We calculate how much carbon is being sequestered by the trees planted, and allow those that support these reforestation efforts to compensate their emissions of travel or events. This is one solution of the many actions needed to be taken to shift our thinking and ways of practicing good business.

Further reading:

[2] Carbon emissions from land use and land-cover change

Houghton R.A et al 2012 

[3] Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD-plus)

[4] United nations program to stop deforestation

[5] British Colombia government initiatives to include forests in their climate action program

Research in Urban Forestry: Collaborative Learning

Urban Forest Halifax
Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Urban Forestry, Program Manager
Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Manager, Urban Forestry Programs and Research Development

Last May, I had the opportunity to visit Halifax, NS, for the Canadian Association of Geographers conference to present my doctoral work as well as discuss the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy and the activities of our a Research Working Group. Led by Dr. Peter Duinker of Dalhousie University and Dr. John Sinclair, the “Geography of Trees in the City” session dealt with current research in urban forestry by professionals and graduate students. During a discussion, one student participant expressed surprise that a considerable amount of research in school ground greening was being conducted in Canada. This made me think about collaboration and creating better opportunities for sharing our work as researchers and practitioners in unconventional forums, not just outward for the public consumption, but also amongst ourselves and to our students.

Sharing Ideas & Stories

With increased interest in urban forest research and new topics being continually examined, the importance of collaboration in these endeavours is integral to ensure that multiple voices are heard.

By integrating transdisciplinarity into thought leadership during our daily practices, we can begin to see the multi-dimensional opportunities that this can create.

For example, by continually focusing on a high-level, national scope, it can be Halifax_Bardekjian2easy to lose local voices; stories of successes, challenges, and needs – that can be framed geographically, culturally, and ecologically. Sharing these stories and anecdotes using diverse methods weaves our national heritage and sews together the diverse threads of our urban forest evolution in Canada. Similarly, to date, accounts of urban forestry history in Canada are generally framed through an applied management lens. As we move forward, my hope is that we see improved accounts showcasing the various aspects of the field that integrate the educational, research and community evolution of urban forestry.

One example of how we integrated stories at York University was through the Alternative Campus Tour where we examined the historical and cultural narratives of our campus grounds (e.g. woodlots, gardens, ponds), as a launching point for discussion about broader issues facing society (e.g. development, densification). I had the opportunity to examine the Michael Boyer Woodlot, one of four woodlots on York’s campus. This type of collaborative and action-oriented learning by sharing perspectives, particularly if you do not share the same viewpoints, is important to confront and question our own biases – after all, being uncomfortable once in awhile provides opportunities for growth.

bckgrndAs part of my work with Tree Canada in directing the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy (CUFS), our current efforts under the Research Working Group (WG3) include developing partnerships with national and international organizations on a variety of projects to tackle urban forestry questions. Some specific tasks this past year have included: delivering the State of Canada’s Municipal Forests report; working with Health Canada on a synthesis paper; compiling an online database of urban forestry resources that we hope to make publicly accessible over the long term; and updating our inventory of municipalities with urban forestry mandates and management plans.

Moving Forward

At the next Canadian Urban Forest Conference (CUFC), as one component of the CUFS workshop, we intend to break off into each of the working groups; one of those being the Research group to discuss current trends, needs and future directions that we want to integrate into the CUFS. As the Lead for the Research working group, I’m interested in knowing what is the interest in building a National Centre for Urban Forest Research and welcome feedback and contributions as we move forward. I encourage you to join in our discussion at the CUFC, or send your thoughts directly to me.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about urban forestry from unconventional perspectives, here are a few suggestions:

  • Heynen, N., Kaika, M., & Swyngedouw, E. (Eds.) (2006). In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism. London: Routledge.
  • Jones, O., & Cloke, P. (2002). Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place. New York, NY: Oxford.
  • Konijnendijk, C. (2008). The Forest and the City: The Cultural Landscape of Urban Woodland. Denmark: Springer.
  • Sandberg, L. A., Bardekjian, A., & Butt, S. (Eds.). (2014). Urban Forests, Trees and Greenspace: A Political Ecology Perspective. London: Routledge.


Urban Forest NetworkloresThe Canadian Urban Forest Network is one of the systems and tools that is currently being better developed to help produce and share knowledge among communities across Canada. In addition, the Canadian Urban Forest Conference (CUFC) serves to foster dialogue on a variety of topics – the 12th CUFC will be held in Laval, Quebec, from September 26th-29th, 2016.

Positive Change: The Future Is Looking Bright for the Canadian Urban Forest Network

504875_97772812Our goals for the CUFN (Canadian Urban Forest Network) and CUFS (Canadian Urban Forestry Strategy) are to foster greater learning, both nationally and internationally, provide a space for people to come together and build a national urban forestry community.

Thanks to the generous support from TD Bank, positive changes have been made in the past two years. Highlights include:

Magog, Québec 2008Building partnerships with national and international organizations, including the Canadian Forest Service, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and the Arbor Day Foundation.

Conducting the State of Canada’s Municipal Forests Survey every 3-5 years. Information collected includes details on budgets, inventory systems, canopy cover, bylaws and social considerations.

Rebranding the Canadian Urban Forest Network website, increasing and tracking our membership through the listserv. We now have over 800 members across Canada and we’re seeing more activity through our social media pages (Facebook and Twitter).

Launching a platform to submit news and stories. One of the challenges we have is that communities do not always have access to information from different areas across Canada. We wanted to provide a space for organizations and individuals to share their stories and ideas. Submissions range from personal anecdotes to reflections on scholarly research.

Being involved in two research projects this year: the first was a national needs assessment of municipal urban forestry with the Canadian Forest Service and the second is a National survey of urban forestry research needs with a student from Laval University.

Working to build partnerships with academic institutions to encourage departments to include urban forestry within their curriculum. A recent example is the University of British Columbia’s Bachelors in Urban Forestry.

Web pic
Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Manager Urban Forestry Programs and Research Development

We are preparing to deliver our 12th Canadian Urban Forest Conference in Laval, Quebec, this coming fall.

Members of the network are kept appraised of all our activities through the listserv. Our membership is free of charge; if you are not a member please join our list.

Urban Forest Networklores


Operation ReLeaf – Fort McMurray

Putting the Green Back in People’s Lives

Forest WildfireIf you’re a resident of Fort McMurray and have just watched your house burn down…

…your job disappear and your child’s school year interrupted, you will never be reassured by knowing that, “Fire is a part of the boreal ecosystem”. Fire is part of the dynamic nature of forests as they germinate, grow, mature and replace themselves. Many ecosystems, including evergreen forests have evolved with fire.

During a typical year in Canada, over 9,000 wildfires burn an area of 2.5 million ha (or four PEI’s). Scientists predict that the intensity and frequency of these fires will rise throughout the next century. Besides burning forests, smoke from these fires can affect air quality (and health) for a great distance.

Messages given by such figures as “Smokey Bear” molded public opinion to believe that fires are always harmful. Fire is now regarded as a “natural disturbance” driving the evolution of species and controlling the characteristics of ecosystems.

Yet, just because wildfire is a part of the ecosystem should never encourage us to carelessly light fires. People should always follow common sense practices:

SMOKING – don’t smoke while walking in the forest, make sure your match is out, and never throw a lit cigarette out of a vehicle;

CAMPFIRES – select a safe place on mineral soil near water. Surround the fireplace with rocks and make sure the fire is dead out by flooding with water when done, and;

BURNING DEBRIS OR GRASS – obtain a burning permit and burn in a safe place. Avoid burning when it is windy and have fire-fighting tools ready.

In Fort McMurray, the fires burned an area greater than 500,000 ha (bigger than PEI) and have greatly affected the life of this eighty-thousand-person community. The largest fire evacuation in Canada’s history resulted in 2,400 buildings being burnt. Many of the remaining parts of the city remain contaminated.  In addition, all five First Nation communities surrounding the city were also directly or indirectly affected. The thousands of street trees and backyard trees that were burnt add to the emptiness and despair in people’s lives. Thankfully though, our forests, even our urban forests, are a dynamic entity that with your help, can be re-established to grow and bring back the environmental benefits they give to the people of Fort McMurray.

Michael Rosen, R.P.F., President – Tree Canada

Besides all of their environmental benefits in filtering air and water pollutants and sequestering CO2, many studies have also shown the positive links between trees and wellness – both physical and mental. Which is why Tree Canada has launched Operation ReLeaf – Fort McMurray. While the clean-up of the mess is ongoing, the planning has just begun to replace the caliper-sized trees on the streets, backyards and ravines needed to re-green and re-landscape Fort McMurray. Through our combined efforts, we can hopefully raise the funds to restore the urban landscape of the city and the First Nation communities which surround it.



Research in urban forestry: The social side of things

Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Urban Forestry, Program Manager
Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Urban Forestry, Program Manager

Urban forestry research has been generally classified in two categories: the biophysical and applied areas, and the social science side of things. The biophysical and applied aspects include threats and diseases such as Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, ecosystem services (benefits and value), and climate adaptation. The social sciences include human dimensions such as language constructions, unequal access to greenspaces, and creative interventions. The dominant discourses in urban forestry focus on its ecology, its management and its public use.

These narratives include, but are not limited to:

adaptive urban forest planning
economic valuation
green infrastructure
planting mandates, and
modeling (e.g. Geographic Information System, remote sensing)

Less attention is paid to narratives such as language, inequality, art creation, and how civic and social engagement impact and matter in planning and policy processes (Sandberg, Bardekjian & Butt, 2014).

York University
Photo credit: Adrina C. Bardekjian, York University campus, Toronto, Ontario

In my first article of this blog series, I stated that research is expanding to include marginal stories; this second entry serves as an introduction to research being done in these areas that explores the themes of environmental and social justice. As presented on November 6th at the Ontario Urban Forest Council annual conference, I will provide four examples:

1The first topic is access and distribution. Research has shown the distinction between ecology in the city and ecology of the city, tying together the notion that urban forests are socio-ecological systems – in social geography and political ecology, this concept has been referred to as metabolism (Heynen, Kaika, & Swyngedouw, 2006), and examines how we consume and experience the urban world around us. Research in urban forestry has advocated that we need more attention paid to issues of justice and nature in the city (Bickerstaff, Bulkeley & Painter, 2009); citizen rights and public access to urban nature (Whitehead, 2009); issues of injustice with respect to greenspace and property (Heynen & Perkins, 2005; Heynen, Perkins & Roy, 2006); and questions of contested benefits of invasive species (Foster & Sandberg, 2004).

Some recent trends include:

mapping distribution – such as comparing canopy cover with socio-economic status in various neighborhoods

Contesting the common ways of practicing and knowing urban forests – for example examining the process of developing urban forest management

Debates about nature vs. society – such as our struggle with identifying ourselves as a part of or apart from the natural world

The notion of curating spaces for public consumption – such as the role of arboreta in fostering urban ecological education

2The second topic is urban agriculture. As community gardens increase, activities are gaining recognition in the urban forestry literature; as such, it is important to consider how this relates to social justice. In June of 2014, a colleague and I were in an underprivileged neighbourhood in East Vancouver to celebrate a recent tree planting event. A group of us were standing around a newly planted seedling discussing its viability, when a man walked out of a methadone clinic from across the street and made his way towards us, waving his arms. He stood next to us and said: “I love trees.”

Hug me tree
Photo credit: Adrina C. Bardekjian, Queen street West, Toronto, Ontario.

He proceeded to take a leaf in his hand and stroke it, and then he said: “I wish this were an apple tree.” He looked at each one of us pointedly before walking away. That experience inspired us to reflect more deeply about the species we are planting: from an ecological and management perspective this has implications on maintenance (like pest management for example); but the experience served to raise questions about access to food in public areas (Heynen, Kurtz, & Trauger, 2012) and the production and use of edible landscapes (McLain, Poe, Hurley, Lecompte-Mastenbrook & Emery, 2012), and whether we, as curators of urban greenspaces, have a responsibility to make that available where possible. The broader under-represented narrative that this contends with is the presence and use of non-timber, urban forest products (Poe, McLain, Emery & Hurley, 2013).

3My third topic considers agency and affect – how we feel about trees and why that matters. This narrative takes account of non-human nature as an actor (Jones & Cloke, 2002); in urban forestry such agency includes ecological elements, such as invasive species, tree senescence, pests and diseases. These elements create unexpected pathways through which humans view the urban environment – humans are part of the natural world, not separate from it (Peet & Watts, 1996) and trees are integrated in our social fabric, our histories and cultures (Konijnendijk, 2008). As part of my own doctoral research, the notion of agency is dealt with when arborists negotiate their role as nurturers within the urban forest (Bardekjian, 2015). This narrative is important in valuing trees as living organisms on their own terms – apart from what they can provide to humans (i.e. services) or the tendency to personify or anthropomorphize trees. Questions that arise include:

question markHow can our emotions towards urban forests and trees better serve the collective space?

What can be done to encourage humans to have more of a question markwillingness to understand trees on their own terms?

In sum, urban forestry is a multi-tiered actor-network (see Braverman, 2014; Perkins, 2007; Castree & MacMillan, 2001) that includes social actors, the narratives they create, and the urban forest itself.

4The final example centers on creative representations and artistic interventions. Personal and collective expressions of creativity such as visual art and sculpture; photography; film; spoken word performances; art installations (altering streetscapes) are also gaining attention in the fabric of urban forestry awareness and discourse. Dr. Kathleen Vaughan, Associate Professor of Art Education at Concordia University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, examines urban forests through interdisciplinary perspectives and art creation. In a recent exhibition, “Tissus urbains” (2015), Kathleen’s work probed the urban woodlands of Montreal by mapping movement through embroidered mosaics of thread and textile (Figure 1). Her work explores how art creation can influence the future of environmental education and engagement.

Embroidered map
Figure 1: Nel mezzo del cammin: Summit Woods (2013-14), digital and hard embroidery on hand piecing on wool/cashmere, 137 cm X 160 cm.

Other examples include: Dr. Paula Meijerink’s “The Urban Forest”, an installation in downtown Montreal. A landscape architect from the Netherlands and visiting professor at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), Dr. Meijerink’s work contests the confines of common urban spaces through design (Figure 2a); Sean Martindale’s “Outside the Planter Boxes” (2010), a Toronto movement attempting to engage communities and highlight neglected city tree planter boxes using creative interventions (Figure 2b); and Noel Harding’s “Elevated Wetlands” (1997), located in Taylor Creek Park in Toronto (Figure 2c); his large-scale pieces of public art as infrastructure explore the complex relationships between social and environmental issues. Artistic interventions can be powerful; they raise awareness by drawing attention to political and social contentions, and in turn inspire action to influence change.

Artistic installations
Figure 2. Artistic installations by various artists, photos.

Overall, research is expanding to include marginal narratives.

We are seeing this through the integration of the social sciences in revealing social justice issues. These deeper inquiries and contestations into urban forestry, and urban ecology more broadly, offer unique insights for the field, but such studies are few and far between in Canada. A recent study conducted by Tree Canada (Bardekjian, Kenney & Rosen, 2015) reveals that trends in research are moving towards social innovation and value. There is interest in determining how advocacy groups, non-profits, tree companies and municipalities are working together to ensure the sustainable urban forest practices, policy development and growth in all respects.

Urban Forest NetworkloresThe Canadian Urban Forest Network is one of the systems and tools that is currently being better developed to help produce and share knowledge among communities across Canada. In addition, the Canadian Urban Forest Conference (CUFC) serves to foster dialogue on a variety of topics – the 12th CUFC will be held in Laval, Quebec, from September 26th-29th, 2016. Over the course of this blog series, I will delve deeper into some of the themes presented above.

More to come!

Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD

Bardekjian, A. (2015). Learning from Limbwalkers: Arborists’ stories in Southern Ontario’s urban forests (doctoral dissertation). York University, Toronto.
Bardekjian, A., Kenney, A., & Rosen, M. (2015). The state of Canada’s municipal forest and national municipal needs assessment surveys. Tree Canada and the Canadian Urban Forest Network.
Bickerstaff, K., Bulkeley, H., & Painter, J. (2009). Justice, nature and the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(3), 591-600.
Braverman, I. (2014). Urban trees and actor-network theory. In L. A. Sandberg, A. Bardekjian & S. Butt (Eds.), Urban forests, trees and greenspace: A political ecology perspective, (pp. 132-146). London, UK: Routledge.
Castree, N., & MacMillan, T. (2001). Dissolving dualisms: Actor-networks and the reimagination of nature. In N. Castree & B. Braun (Eds.), Social nature: Theory, practice, and politics, (pp. 208-224). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Foster, J., & Sandberg, A. (2004). Friends or foe? Invasive species and public green space in Toronto. Geographical Review, 94(2), 178-198.
Heynen, N., Kaika, M., & Swyngedouw, E. (Eds.) (2006). In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism. London: Routledge.
Heynen, N., Kurtz, H.E. & Trauger, A.K., (2012). Food, Hunger and the City. Geography Compass. 6: 304-311.
Heynen, N., & Perkins, H. (2005). Scalar dialectics in green: Urban private property and the contradictions of the neoliberalization of nature. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 16(1), 99-113.
Heynen, N., Perkins, H., & Roy, P. (2006). The political ecology of uneven urban green space: The impact of political economy on race and ethnicity in producing environmental inequality in Milwaukee. Urban Affairs Review, 42, 3-25.
Jones, O., & Cloke, P. (2002). Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place. New York, NY: Oxford.
McLain, R., Poe, M., Hurley, P., Lecompte-Mastenbrook, J., & Emery, M. (2012). Producing edible landscapes in Seattle’s urban forest. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 11, 187– 194.
Peet, R., & Watts, M. (1996). Liberation ecologies: Environment, development, and social movements. London and New York: Routledge.
Perkins, H. (2007). Ecologies of actor-networks and (non)social labor within the urban political economies of nature. Geoforum, 38(6), 1152-1162.
Poe M., McLain, R., Emery, M., & Hurley, P. (2013). Urban forest justice and the rights to wild Foods, medicines, and materials in the city. Human Ecology, 41(3): 409-422.
Sandberg, L. A., Bardekjian, A., & Butt, S. (Eds.). (2014). Urban Forests, Trees and Greenspace: A Political Ecology Perspective. London: Routledge.
Whitehead, M. (2009). The wood for the trees: Ordinary environmental injustice and the everyday right to urban nature. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(3), 662-681.

Research in Urban Forestry: Expanding Directions and Sharing Knowledge

Web pic
Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Urban Forestry, Program Manager

Our Tree Canada team was sitting around our table in the boardroom discussing a recent event when I offered a casual reference to an uncommon book that I had read the previous week regarding a labour issue. At this point, Monette Gauvreau, our Communications Officer, and Debra Beattie, our Development Manager, who is accustomed to my frequent offerings of sporadic facts, data and marginal details about topical issues, both turned to me and said, “Hey, you should start a blog about your research!”

Being an over-analytical person, I immediately started thinking about how this process might work: what topics should be covered? What are the parameters? How can we include some research while inevitably excluding others? Before I begin this quarterly series of research blog posts, I wanted to tell you a bit about myself which may serve to qualify why Debra and Monette chose me to share this information with you.

I am a bard at heart. I have an eclectic background in creative writing, literature and anthropology. Urban forestry was a more recent development in my career that I welcomed wholeheartedly and spent the past 12 yearsstanley-park-51674_1280 (1) exploring. I am a recent doctoral graduate of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Inspired by political ecology, my academic research focuses on communicating under-represented narratives in urban forestry and arboriculture towards new ways for bridging theory and practice in the field. I pursue this through writing, film and photography.

I love teaching and learning with, and from others, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting many amazing people in my academic, applied and volunteer endeavours: working with various organizations, levels of government and sitting on multiple Boards such as the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition Shade Policy Committee and the Ontario Urban Forest Council.

maple-325974_1280Currently, in my role with Tree Canada, I manage the national urban forestry programs portfolio, which includes directing the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy (CUFS), Network (CUFN) and biennial Conference (CUFC). In addition to moving the strategic efforts forward within our organization, I come to this role with the intention of growing our national network and helping to share urban forestry knowledge and initiatives that are currently being pursued across the country.

Research in urban forestry is expanding to include marginal stories and topics such as urban agriculture, feminist perspectives, community health, language constructions, and artistic representations that can help inform better policies.

Thus, the objective of these quarterly blog posts is to inform readers of booksacademic research, publications and other forms of telling stories (e.g. films) that invoke emotion and inspire critical thinking towards various urban ecological topics. Topics will be drawn from feedback received through our contacts, our CUFN listserv, our regional workshops, as well as other sources. This effort is part of a larger initiative that we are currently exploring under the Research Working Group (WG3, Task 3.4) of the CUFS. We are currently compiling an online database of urban forestry resources that we hope to make publicly accessible over the long term. I welcome your feedback and contributions as we move forward.

For an introductory look, I will be giving an oral presentation on this topic with one of my colleagues from the Totten Fellows, on Friday, November 6th, at the Ontario Urban Forest Council annual conference and AGM in Toronto, Ontario.

The first written entry will be circulated towards the end of November 2015.

Stay tuned!

Crash Course for Tree Canada Staff

Crash Course Tree Canada Staff

Learning Beyond my Area of Expertise

Monette Gauvreau
Monette Gauvreau Communications Officer, Tree Canada

As the new Communications Officer for Tree Canada, I felt like I did not know much about trees and how to care for them, even less how they grow in certain areas and how they’ve evolved in urban settings. My daily tasks don’t particularly require me to know about this stuff. However, myself and a few other people here in the Tree Canada’s offices work among people who live and breathe trees. They are passionate about what they do and are very knowledgeable. This is our chance to get out and learn about trees in order to better utilize the programs and initiatives that are put in place by Tree Canada and their partners, and create new ones in the future.

On Your Bike… Get Set… Go!

Taking down ash tree
Justin from CSL Group, demonstrating his specialized equipment to take down the tree safely.

And so on a beautiful Friday morning, we hop on our bikes and set out on a group ride with the intention of learning how to identify trees in the great City of Ottawa. We started off riding along the Rideau Canal. As we’re enjoying our tour (lead by our President Mike Rosen) along the sparkling water of the canal, sharing the pathway with many mid-day runners and bikers, we ran into a crew that was taking down a tree that had obviously been hit by the Emerald Ash Borer. Looking around the city, you can see many leafless once-majestic ash trees. It was devastating to see the damage done by this bug throughout the city. But this was still a good opportunity to learn! The nice gentleman that was meticulously taking down the tree one branch at a time came down and explained to us what he was doing and what kind of equipment he was using. After an unscheduled Q&A session with the crew, we continued the tour to our final destination; the Dominion Arboretum.

Lunch Under the Tree

Bike Tour Blueberry pie
Laurence Bastien, Debra Beattie, Mike Rosen, Monette Gauvreau, Sarah Quann, Etienne Green and Muriel Fournier

After spending time walking around the many types of trees in the arboretum, reading the tags on the trees, touching the leaves and the bark and referring back to our trusted “Trees in Canada” guide, it was time to sit down and enjoy a well-deserved meal. Stories were shared over some sandwiches and a delicious blueberry pie given to us by the Mayor of St-Bruno d’Alma, Réjean Bouchard. Finally, with a full stomach and red cheeks from the scorching heat and beaming sun, we made our way back to the office with a new-found respect for tree conservation and reforestation.

New Perspective on the Importance of Trees

Now as I walk around in the city, and also in the various suburban areas as well as the country side, I recognize many trees and can identify their main features. Understanding the benefits of trees in such areas makes all the difference in my day-to-day job, and I invite you to do a bit of research on the trees that are directly on your property, in your community and parks that are around you everyday, forming bountiful landscapes and continuously providing you with clean oxygen and shade.