We have officially come to the end of our first tree inventory of CityHousing properties in Hamilton. Our team has completed a detailed Neighborwoods© assessment of close to 1000 trees at 20 properties across the city. This past summer has been filled with much joy and success for our tree inventory team and community volunteers. We met amazing people during each of our site visits and enjoyed engaging with many tenants and passersby that were curious about what we were doing. The community was very excited about this project and gave us lots of thumbs up!
Over the course of the summer, we experienced the many unique aspects of each property. Each property has reflected the commitment the tenants have to beautify and care for their homes. Many properties contained community gardens that had been set up by the tenants to get together as neighbours and friends to grow delicious fruits and vegetables, beautiful pollinator-loving flowers, shrubs and trees, and you might find a cute gnome and homes for our fellow furry animals.
As we moved from property to property, we noticed that on some properties there were as many as 200 trees on-site, while others only had 3! One would think that as you move to the downtown core of Hamilton, the properties would have fewer trees. However, this was not always the case. Some properties in the midst of urban Hamilton have as many as 50 trees, and they are doing well! Of course, this is thanks to the commitment of the tenants to taking care of the trees planted there.
After visiting all these different CityHousing properties, we have noticed a few trends, including a lack of tree species diversity, and tree care challenges. One would expect that after inventorying almost 1000 trees, there would be a lot more variety throughout the sites, but in our case, we noticed only a few tree species dominated. Some of the most common tree species found across all 20 sites were: Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), Little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata), and Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra). Moreover, we also found many trees facing health challenges, such as: weed whacker damage, which had resulted in trunk damage scars and rot; trees that were planted too close to a sidewalk, which eventually causes roots to girdle; and wires and metal stakes that were forgotten and are causing bark damage.
We know that trees are resilient and can adapt to most changes in our environment. Nonetheless, we still need to do much better as a community to protect these important trees. They provide us with so much and help us live happy and healthy life. While many of us recognize we need to take action and come together as a community to plant trees, either at a community planting event or even in our own backyards as an individual, we don’t have established programs to help care for trees in the long term.
Across the City, and especially at CityHousing properties, we need to do a much better job of protecting our newly planted and maturing trees, and continuing to give them care and attention for as long as we can.
Check out our Tree Inventory Map here to see all the locations we inventoried! The full report of our tree inventory, shade audit, and tenant engagement findings will be coming in spring 2022.
After spending almost 60 hours of inventorying and learning about trees, here are some testimonials from our amazing Tree Inventory Volunteers!
The Hamilton Tree Equity Project is a collaboration between Green Venture, CityHousing Hamilton, Trees for Hamilton, the City of Hamilton Forestry Department, and the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.
This project is made possible from a Hamilton Community Foundation grant to help build a healthy community.