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

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.

Donor Profile: Evo Car Share

20140930_Evo_day2_BROD3417Evo Car Share is a new, sustainable car sharing option for Vancouverites, created by BCAA (British Columbia Automobile Association).

Vancouver is famous for being nestled in the mountains, surrounded by forests and beaches – the great outdoors is on the doorstep. With an all-hybrid fleet, fitted with bike and ski racks and room for five people and cargo, Evo is set up for its members to enjoy everything the B.C. lifestyle has to offer.

It’s often said that it’s possible to ski and swim in the ocean on the same day here, but forested areas are also a big part of what makes Vancouver’s outdoor living special. Vancouverites can enjoy an impressive trail system through local forests year-round. Whether people choose to hike, mountain bike, snowshoe, or even zip line, Vancouver’s forests offer escape and recreation to thousands of locals, as well as being beautiful and important to a healthy environment.

Tree Canada is a perfect fit with Evo’s philosophy and business, and undoubtedly with many of its members. As a sustainable transport option, the environment is important to Evo, which sees a great opportunity to make a difference and give back to B.C.’s environmental health through Tree Canada. All car sharers in B.C. are mandated to pay an annual $2 ICBC car share fee – Evo donates 100% of this amount directly to support charities including Tree Canada.

Donations from Evo Members support Tree Canada’s National Greening Program, which contributes seedlings to areas in need of reforestation or afforestation throughout British Columbia. Evo’s hope is to make a positive contribution to sustaining and growing B.C.’s tree population both within its cities and surrounding areas, so that generations of people can enjoy a healthy lifestyle and thrive in a sustainable and incredible place to live.

With thousands of people pre-registered for Evo Car Share during the 3 weeks leading up to launch , it’s clear that Vancouverites are welcoming a new, sustainable, environmentally conscious car share option that connects them to the B.C. lifestyle.

Trees are a pretty big deal to Vancouver and to Evo. Supporting Tree Canada is an important way to raise awareness and resources to protect and nurture this incredible natural resource and vital contributor to a healthy living environment for everyone.

For more information on Evo Care Share, visit

How Can You Celebrate International Day of Forests?

By John Leonard

Photo by Hans Heim
Rock Lake, Algonquin Park. Photo by Hans Heim.

Spring is on the way and we couldn’t be happier. Nature’s colours reappear, scents of greenery emerge, and a world that seemed so dull becomes alive once again.

We appreciate this time of year because it renews excitement in our lives and reminds us how remarkable our environment is. Interacting with our parks and forests is an imperative part of human health and life, and we need to continue working toward sustaining the wellbeing of our natural environments.

March 21 is International Day of Forests—a global celebration of our forests. This is a day to reflect and remind us how vital our forests and trees are to the planet. Forests are the most biologically diverse terrestrial ecosystems and cover one third of the earth’s landmass. They are home to more than 80 percent of land species of plants and animals, and help balance the oxygen, carbon and humidity in the air. Forests are also downright beautiful and an Earth without them would be unliveable.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Forests is “Forests and Climate Change.” Despite all of the crucial things our forests do for the planet, deforestation still occurs at a high rate. That’s why working towards solutions for developing and sustaining our forests and reducing greenhouse emissions is extremely important.

Canadians have eagerly awaited the launch of Tree Canada’s new online carbon calculator. It allows people to input their transportation and energy usage details to calculate their emissions in number of tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2). The most exciting part of this feature is the ability for users to offset their emissions through tree planting. People can pick and purchase what type of tree they would like planted and Tree Canada will plant them within their national planting zones as part of the national greening program.

In February, Tree Canada proudly launched the second annual 10,000 Tree Challenge. Individuals, companies, and groupsiStock_000016006960 alike, are invited to join in an effort to plant 10,000 trees across Canada in celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22. Last year’s event surpassed expectations and 10,021 trees were planted across the country. Contributions came from school fundraisers, green committee contributions, and employee appreciation initiatives. Tree Canada is hoping for a higher total of trees planted during this year’s challenge.

What better time to raise awareness of the importance of forests and trees than in the spring? It’s the perfect time to discover ways that we can give back to the environment and work towards a healthier neighbourhood, city, country, and planet.

Go out and enjoy the wonderful spring weather when it arrives. But remember to return the favour, and give a little something back to the environment that so graciously provides for us.

For more information on Tree Canada and its various programs and initiatives, visit

John Leonard is currently completing a six-week field placement with Tree Canada as part of Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program.

Light up a more sustainable future with your tree this year

tree_planting_2014-marketing-teamIKEA Canada is a proud and long-standing partner of Tree Canada, having conducted our “Pick a Tree, Plant a Tree” program together for the past 18 years. The holiday season is when this initiative starts to come to life!

This year, you can purchase a Christmas tree at any IKEA Canada store for $20 and receive a $20 coupon to use on a purchase over $75 between December 15, 2014 and January 31, 2015. We donate a portion of these sales to Tree Canada to support planting activities in the communities near to each of our stores across the country, and in May of each year our co-workers volunteer their time in these same communities to plant the trees. This program is a fantastic example of how our “People & Planet Positive” sustainability strategy comes to life locally.

We sincerely believe that urban tree planting provides countless benefits to our society, and I am particularly excited about how it can strengthen the often forgotten connection between city-dwellers and the natural world that sustains us all every day.  

Sincere thanks to all of Tree Canada’s supporters, and happy holidays to you all from IKEA Canada!  

Brendan Seale
Sustainability Manager, IKEA Canada

P.S. For a great holiday gift idea, check out #TuquesForTrees. I’ve already bought two!

Greening Canada’s School Grounds Project Profile: Carman, Manitoba

Adam_wateringI am a board member of our local Child Care Centre, TLC Child Care Centre Inc. in Carman, Manitoba, and like all Child Care Centres, we try and access as many grants and programs as possible. I came across the Tree Canada Greening Canada’s School Grounds program through an email that was sent to me at work, completely unrelated to my work as I manage a lending department for commercial loans!

After a quick read I emailed Ken Fosty, and he was very prompt at replying to my inquiry and gave me excellent information on how to complete the application form. With the application we needed a detailed map of the Centre’s yard along with where and how many trees were to be planted.

I went to our local Nursery, Aubin Nurseries, and they were very helpful in creating a site plan for us. They were very helpful because I wouldn’t have thought of many considerations to take into account when choosing what kind of trees to plant. They helped me pick out shrubs that don’t have large flowers and bloom early in the season so as not to attract too many bees, and they suggested the trees not have ornamental bearing fruit so the kid’s don’t try and eat them. All these suggestions were very much appreciated. The children wanted some apple trees so that they could use the apples in their baking they do during the summer and fall at the Centre.

Once the application was sent in we received notification quickly that we were approved for $1,600.00. The application ended up being the easy part! Now we had to plant 120 shrubs and 8 trees! We organized a plant-a-thon and had staff, 5 board members, 4 parents, and 7 children come out to help plant. Ken Fosty came out to help as well for the first night of planting. Our deputy mayor attended to thank the Child Care Centre and Tree Canada for helping to beautify the Centre and teach the children the value of trees. Ken Fosty also brought with him evergreen saplings for the volunteers to take with them. We had a local fertilizer company donate the fertilizer that we put in the holes to help the shrubs and trees get a good start.IMG_0601

After the planting was done the Centre made a watering “chore chart” and the kids helped to water the plants until the weather turned colder. We emphasized to the local media and Centre staff that the trees and shrubs not only provided protection against noise and dust from adjacent roads but also an educational component.

Trees are living and breathing and offer much to our environmental health. We will use the trees to teach the children environmental stewardship as well as the good things trees provide us to eat.

We are very grateful to Tree Canada and all the staff that managed our application from start to finish. They were all very knowledgeable and friendly and answered all the questions we had along the way. Thanks to Tree Canada and FedEx for your generous gift to our children.

Click here for more information on Tree Canada’s Greening Canada’s School Grounds program (applications accepted year-round)

Ken Reimer
Board Member & Treasurer, TLC Child Care Centre Inc.


Donor Profile: Anitra Winje

Anitra Winje

Donor Name: Anitra Winje
Location: Nelson, BC

1. How did you first hear about or get involved with Tree Canada?

I first learned of Tree Canada when I noticed its logo on merchandise at the Nelson Home Hardware store. This led me to research Tree Canada online.

2. Where does your appreciation of trees come from?

Most of my earliest and happiest memories involve trees. I was privileged to grow up in a forested area. This sylvan environment fostered my imagination and taught me respect for the natural world. I learned that trees provide habitat for living things. They shade us from the sweltering heat of summer. They give us food—I still remember the joy of picking and eating the sweet, plump fruit on my grandparents’ cherry tree. Trees were playgrounds—a place to hang a swing or build a fort. They were also friends—sturdy, steadfast confidants and something upon which to lean when I was lonely or sad.

Many of my relatives, including my father, worked for the local sawmill so I was raised to understand the importance of logging to the local economy and to our family’s survival. However, I discovered that trees provide so much more than just building material or fodder for pulp mills.

3. What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about bettering our urban and rural environments?

The benefits of trees are numerous and proven: they produce oxygen; reduce greenhouse gases; filter the atmosphere; conserve water; provide food, shelter, shade and habitat; increase property value; prevent soil erosion; aid in riparian restoration; beautify our landscapes and have positive and profound psychological effects on people. They are vital to the health of our watersheds. They boast medicinal properties and are a cornerstone of many economies. Just as forests in parks draw visitors, urban trees can drawn tourists and provide economic benefits to communities.

Communities should be stewards of their urban and rural forests. We depend on trees for our very survival. They are the lungs of our planet.

Local governments have the power to adopt tree-cutting bylaws to preserve their urban forests. Communities can develop tree management plans. They can initiate arbor days to celebrate the importance of trees. Tree Canada’s Greening Canada’s School Grounds program is a wonderful way to teach children about the value of trees and how we must all take responsibility for their care.

4. What do you wish other people knew about Tree Canada or the importance of trees to our environment and health?

Canadians can make a positive and lasting impact on our environment by supporting Tree Canada. Tree Canada is a steward, educator, researcher, funder, innovator and facilitator. The organization brings Canadians together to build a better Canada for everyone.

5. What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about the importance of trees?

Trees are essential to our well-being on an economic, environmental, physical, emotional and for some people, spiritual level.

6. What has surprised you most about working with Tree Canada?

The Tree Canada team is incredible: their dedication to and passion for their organization is palpable. Their outreach is exemplary. They have gone above and beyond to make me feel appreciated as a donor and have even solicited my feedback. Their customer service is the best I have ever encountered. I received a call from Michael Rosen, the president of Tree Canada, which surprised and delighted me! For me, it was getting a call from one of my heroes.

7. What do you think will change about public engagement/awareness of the importance of trees to our communities over the next five years?

The climate change crisis seems to be the paramount environmental issue of our time. The doom and gloom that has accompanied this crisis can be ameliorated by the simple act of planting a tree. This involves planning for the future but also recognizing the importance of effectively managing our forests and urban trees now.

8. Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work with Tree Canada.

I received a call from President Michael Rosen. He was calling to thank me for something but it gave me the opportunity to thank him for the work that Tree Canada does. Other staff have called and emailed me and I am always deeply touched by how kind and thoughtful they are and impressed by their professionalism and knowledge. I am truly grateful to the Tree Canada team for doing the work that they do and for giving me an opportunity to express my love and support for trees.

9. What does it mean for you to be a donor of Tree Canada?

I am not a forester or scientist or a business owner. I am a government officer. I have always loved trees. I don’t own a property on which to plant trees so Tree Canada gives me the opportunity to make a difference.

10. What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to Tree Canada?

Supporting Tree Canada is an investment not only in the current health of our country, its environment and its citizens, but also in our future. Donors have a wide range of programs which they can support and they can direct their donations towards certain regions of the country.

Being a donor gives me an immense feeling of pride, purpose and satisfaction. It also gives me hope for a better future.

Click here to donate to Tree Canada