Brampton’s Urban Forest Management Plan – Have Your Say

Urban Forest Management Plan Art Contest – Hirnakshi Joshi, second place winner

The City of Brampton is looking for citizen feedback on its urban forest master plan. The urban forest encompasses all the trees on both public and private lands, including parks, valleylands, and woodlots. It also includes street trees, trees in parking lots, trees on institutional/employment lands and trees on residential property. Residents and stakeholders are being asked to complete a survey available until April 1, 2022.

Trees are a very important part of the city-scape. According to the Government of Canada, “Urban Forests increase our quality of life by promoting mental well-being and encouraging physical activity.” Trees, produce oxygen, filter out air and soil contaminants, support biodiversity, reduce heat loss in the winter and cool temperatures in the summer. Their shade and majesty beautifies neighbourhoods and increases property values. As many tree species can live for hundreds of years, they connect us to our past and help build our sense of community.

For Brampton, trees are critical to the city’s 2040 Vision and the achievement of the Community Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan, (CEERP). Brampton’s trees absorb over 7,700 tonnes of carbon each year which is like taking more than 1,500 cars off Brampton’s roads. Large trees store 75 times as much carbon as smaller trees so the maturity of the forest is also an important factor.

The presence of trees also helps reduce Brampton’s energy requirements by slowing the rate of heat absorption in the hard surfaces of nearby roads and buildings. Urban locations with lots of tree cover can be as much as 10-12 degrees cooler than those with lower amounts of natural vegetation.

Brampton boasts an inventory of 3.6 million trees with an estimated economic value of $780 million. Yet, despite its reputation as a green city, Brampton’s urban forest falls short in several key areas including, canopy coverage, species diversity, and forest maturity. The tree canopy covers only about 18% of the city’s total land mass. This compares to a 25% average cover for other selected communities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Three tree species, maple, ash and, spruce account for almost half of the total cover. And Brampton’s forests are dominated by smaller younger trees.

These short-comings make the forest vulnerable to climate change risks. Invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer have all but wiped out the city’s stands of large ash trees. The 2013 ice storm killed more than 30,000 trees, with larger mature trees experiencing the most damage. Mature trees are particularly important in terms of the eco-system services they provide. They store 75 times more carbon than small trees and filter out approximately 10 times the amount of pollution from the air. Larger trees also provide more shade and wildlife habitat.

Fewer than half of Brampton’s trees are considered to be in good or excellent condition. The Urban Forest Management Plan’s purpose therefore is to outline a vision for the future of Brampton’s urban forest, define the targets necessary to achieve that vision and then implement a process to monitor progress towards those targets. Click here to see a draft of the city’s urban forest management plan.

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