An urban forest includes all of the trees and wooded areas in a city, natural or planted, on public or private property. They provide many ecological, social and economic benefits to the community. A well distributed urban canopy (35%) provides enhanced livability in the city by providing shade, aesthetics, wildlife, and air quality benefits. In times of climate change the urban forest benefits are important in stabilizing our local environments.
People generally enjoy recreating in areas with accessible natural areas, and trees as aesthetic features provide benefits to our mental state. These benefits however are localized, meaning that canopy distribution directly impacts the access urban forest benefits.
Through the Trees Please project over 1,200 trees were inventoried in the Beasley and Beach Strip neighbourhoods. A list of 25 pieces of information is collected for each tree that is inventoried, providing a good understanding of the general health of a tree as well as any potential hazards posed by or threatening that tree. Information collected for each tree includes: tree species identification, height, diameter, as well as parameters that contribute to a categorized assessment of tree health and hazards.
Information collected for each tree is entered into an online application called Open Tree Map. Data entry is done in the field as information is collected, using a tablet. Once tree data has been entered, the tree appears as a green dot on the Open Tree Map. Map viewers can click on a dot and access the tree inventory information for that tree. The system also shares details about the ecosystem services provided by that tree, including the estimated weight of air particulate pollution filtered out of the air by that tree each year. The ecosystem services feature can also be used to calculate the contributions of all of the trees inventoried in a neighbourhood.
Through the calculations from Open Tree Map we learned that we are receiving the following ecobenefits from the inventoried trees:
Total annual benefits $231,416 saved
Energy conserved 3,210,333 kwh/year saved $181,890
Stormwater filtered 7,377,326 gal/year saved $5,901
Air quality improved 7,150 lbs/year saved $37,487
Carbon dioxide removed 1,837,633 lbs/year saved $6,137
Carbon dioxide stored to date 17,225,888 lbs saved $57,534
Imagine the benefits of a healthy urban forest!