Hamilton’s Urban Forest Strategy
Have you heard of the urban forest? It’s a fancy way of saying all the trees in our urban environment. From the tree you can see from your window, to the tree you walk by in the park, it’s every single tree in Hamilton’s urban boundary – and we want to ensure the long-term health of this forest. The City of Hamilton has been developing an Urban Forest Strategy (UFS) bringing together action items to protect and grow our forest. This strategy will impact almost every aspect of the City’s operations, from stormwater management, to our response to climate change, to community health and well-being.
Trees are the solution to many problems we face, including climate change and a lack of access to urban greenspace. Trees not only mitigate the risks of climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, but they also make cities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. A healthy urban forest, in greenspaces, city parks, and along our streets, also provides us with places for outdoor recreation and connecting with nature – spaces that have become even more essential since the COVID-19 lockdown. Unfortunately, climate change is also a threat to our trees in Hamilton, from the expansion of pests that create wide-spread damage, to the pressures of severe weather like ice storms and droughts. It is so important that we PROTECT and GROW our urban forests now to enhance this shared resource which supports a healthy environment, society, and economy.
Connecting to our programs
Trees are rooted in a variety of programs at Green Venture showcasing just how versatile and critical to sustainability the urban forest is!
- Energy Efficiency: Trees can lower energy costs for heating and cooling
- Stormwater Management: Trees absorb water from the ground, preserve soil, and reduce the risk of flooding
- Air Quality: Trees provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and trap particulate matter (air pollution) through their leaves
- Climate Change Mitigation: Trees provide carbon sequestration and storage
- Nature Connection: Trees support urban biodiversity and provide places where children and youth learn, explore, and gain an appreciation for nature
This is just a short list of the many ways our programs connect to trees! Green Venture is excited to help promote the UFS and be involved along the way. So how can we help?
- Planting Trees: Let’s help the city reach (and hopefully exceed!) a 30% canopy cover goal by planting trees
- Protecting Trees: Let’s work together to be stewards of the forest and protect existing trees, water and care for newly planted trees, and ensure proper maintenance that prevents disease, damage from storms, premature removal, etc
- Speaking for Trees: Let’s have our voices heard and make suggestions and recommendations on how the City can better manage our urban forest
YOU speak for the trees
As the strategy is developed and released there will be many ways to get involved. Check out the Engage Hamilton to get involved and stay up to date on the project.
There’s lots that trees can do for us, but what can we do for the trees?
Over half of all the approximately 5,212,000 trees in Hamilton (58%) are on private property. Planting trees on your property is important, but even more so is protecting existing trees. As trees grow, so do their benefits, so protecting trees through their life stages is critical. We must invest in the urban forest we want to see in our city, which means we must ensure the long-term protection of trees and the entire urban forest! So continue to speak for the trees and get involved as a steward of the urban forest! Here are 10 things you can do for trees (from the City’s Urban Forest Strategy, page 13):
- Preserve existing trees on your property whenever possible
- Respect city tree by-laws
- Plant new trees on your property and participate in community tree planting events
- Advocate for better tree protection in Hamilton
- Water your trees during periods of low rainfall
- Participate in citizen science
- Have mature trees assessed by a qualified arborist
- Spend time with trees – go for a hike in the woods or a walk in your local park
- Protect tree stems and roots from damage during construction and landscaping
- Talk to your neighbours about why trees are important