Trees Please Hamilton

Green Solutions to Air Pollution


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Urban Forest Facts with HNC member, Kyle McLoughlin.


Photo of Kyle McLoughlin.  Photo credit: Barry Gray at The Hamilton Spectator

The Importance of biodiversity in our urban areas cannot be stressed enough. A diverse urban forest is necessary for long term resilience. The presence of different tree species mitigates invasive diseases and pests, and staggers the long term loss of canopy cover. A variety of trees also means a dynamic environment, and a hardy, beautiful landscape.

Proper planting and pruning is essential for long term good health. Like a new pet owner takes the time to give their dog or cat the proper bathroom training, shots, and surgeries, a tree owner should do the same. A poorly trained tree can be a nuisance, and even a significant safety risk. Proper planting of a tree, in the right area, and in the proper manner, can make a difference that can save a lot of money. Pruning a tree plays the same role, by removing problem limbs before they become a problem. It really gives significant meaning to ‘nip it in the bud’.

Native trees are generally more hardy in their own environment than introduced trees or invasive trees. Invasive species actually work to reduce biodiversity and can negatively impact the urban and natural landscape. This can lead to issues that cost a lot of money in the long and short term.

Utility lines and aesthetics: It is important to select an appropriate location for each tree to be planted. A large tree under utility lines will mean an ugly tree in a decade. And an ugly tree for a long, long time.

Abiotic disorders such as pollution and soil compaction can affect a tree in a variety of ways. Many municipalities have by laws that protect tree root-zones for the long term health of the tree. Excavators, and other vehicles can damage roots to the point where a tree dies. Often times this death is not apparent until a number of years after construction.

The role of fungus and insects: Biotic organisms play an important role in the urban canopy as much as in the natural one. Wood decay fungus, symbiotic fungus, and insects that interact with both can affect the life of the tree as well as the structural stability. As tree owners and lovers, we must pay attention to the organisms that love them as well!

By-laws, insurance and documentation: Litigation in relation to trees can become extensive in a variety of situations. Sharing a tree between neighbours can be a challenging but rewarding task if managed correctly. Document every discussion, and every prune for the sake of your knowledge of the tree, and for the benefit of any future arborist that may have a relationship with the tree. Like a doctor needs to know the past history of their patient, an arborist can better assist a tree the more knowledge they have in regards to their patient.


Photo of Kyle McLoughlin.  Photo credit: Barry Gray at The Hamilton Spectator


Author: treespleasehamilton

A project of the Hamilton Naturalists' Club and Environment Hamilton. Funding by Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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