Trees Please Hamilton

Green Solutions to Air Pollution


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Presenting our new infographic!

Trees Please has been working hard the last three years to understand a bit more about the urban forest in Hamilton. Check out some of the numbers in our snazzy new infographic, and keep an eye out for our final neighbourhood reports coming out in the new year.

Thanks to all our volunteers for helping us achieve these results!

Trees Please Infographic (1)

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Ecosystem services provided by trees: cooling and sheltering

On a hot day, there is nothing like resting below the dense canopy of a towering tree, where the temperature is several degrees lower than under the open sky. In the winter, animals find warmth in the branches of evergreen trees, sheltered from the blowing snow

For us, the cooling and sheltering provided by trees can be translated directly into energy savings. By shading your house in the summer and buffering it from the wind and snow in the winter, trees reduce the strain on air conditioners and furnaces.

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Imagine having this 20 metre tall beauty in your backyard! Open Tree Map calculates that this Silver Maple could save you $123 annually just in terms of heating and cooling. Not a bad bonus on top of making all that oxygen!


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Ecosystem services provided by trees: Stormwater filtration

Stormwater picks up pollutants wherever it falls and transports them to the harbour. Rain falling on parking lots and streets picks up oil and chemicals, as well as garbage. Heavy rains also cause erosion, flooding, and damage to property and infrastructure in the city.

By planting more trees, erosion can be stabilized, and stormwater is intercepted. Raingardens and other green space can hold and filter rain water, preventing large amounts of flow picking up contaminants, and reducing the risk of flooding. With climate change, it will be more important than ever to incorporate green infrastructure into city design.

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This Red Oak in Eastwood Park filters 1,015 gallons (3,842 litres) of stormwater each year, and the number will grow as the young tree matures.

In Hamilton, the 6,000 trees inventoried through the Trees Please project over three years – a small sample of the city’s urban forest – are filtering 6,309,660 gallons (about 23,884,661 litres) of stormwater every year. Trees Matter!

Tree Benefits

Note: not all trees are included in Open Tree Map’s calculations. Some species are not supported by the app for these calculations, and occasions where the tree could only be identified to genus are also excluded. 5,713 living trees, excludes trees noted as dead but recorded (which allows us to identify places that could use a replacement).


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Celebrating Trees Please

Three years, six neighbourhoods, 5,700 trees inventoried, countless kilometres covered. Trees Please has wrapped up this autumn, but with the Urban Forest Strategy now underway in Hamilton, the legacy of this project will continue to make change in the city.

This year, Trees Please focused on the North End neighbourhood and the Sherman Hub. The North End is bounded by the rail tracks to the south, the harbour to the north and west, and Wellington Street to the east. The air quality in this neighbourhood is influenced by adjacent industry in the northeast, as well as by the nearby 403 and active railway. The neighbourhood has also seen a great deal of change with the revitalisation of the waterfront, and much more evolution is already underway. The Sherman Hub is comprised of the Gibson, Stipley, St. Clair, and Blakely neighbourhoods, extending from Wentworth to Gage, and from the escarpment to the rail tracks. The hub is transected by several major roads, including Barton, Cannon, King, and Main, leading to heavy traffic use throughout. To the north, the industrial area affects many residents, with homes steps away from industry around the Lucy Day Park area. Tim Horton’s Field attracts a lot of visitors to the neighbourhood.

With the help of outstanding volunteers, we inventoried one thousand trees per neighbourhood. The trees measured in the North End are contributing $45,158 of ecosystem services and removing 279,062 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. In Sherman, the benefits are valued at $47,234 and 299,280 pounds of CO2 removed. Littleleaf Lindens, Norway Maples, Honylocusts, and Freeman Maples dominated, but many interesting and unique species were also encountered throughout the parks and private trees. We particularly love seeing Kentucky Coffeetrees across the city with their thick bean pods and unique bi-pinnately compound leaves – the largest of any native species in Canada. The City Forestry department is diversifying their selections as we all push for more native species, and for a more resilient urban canopy in the face of climate change.

This project thrived with the tireless efforts of our dedicated volunteers. Drawn in by a love of trees and desire to learn more, volunteers joined us as we covered each of our six neighbourhoods over three years. Together we honed tree identification skills, assessed air quality issues, and got a deep understanding of the particular challenges in each neighbourhood. From students interested in learning how to measure trees, to local parents concerned about their neighbourhood’s air quality, to folks simply intrigued by our urban forest close to home, our volunteers came from many backgrounds and priorities. One of our most dedicated volunteers, Jeff, came out almost every week to inventory with us in both neighbourhoods! We appreciate every single person who came out to measure trees and see what Trees Please was all about!

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Jeff, tree planting superstar!

We want to thank our numerous volunteers for their time and effort over the three years of the Trees Please Project. You have made a difference in the city and we look forward to working together to improve Hamilton’s urban forest.

Trees Please is a project of Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, generously supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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Wrapping up our Lichen in the City project

We’ve had a great time this summer and autumn introducing people to the colourful world of lichen existing quietly all around us! Thanks to support from the Royal Bank of Canada, we were able to host a series of workshops and neighbourhood inventories focused on our Trees Please neighbourhoods. Curious naturalists joined us for sessions in Bayfront Park and Gage Park to learn about the basic biology of these fascinating organisms, to check out a collection of samples from our nature sanctuaries, and to explore the parks for common lichen we can spot across Hamilton.

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An abundance of lichen! Physcia millegrana (grey) and Candelaria concolor (yellow). The pinkish colour is lichen dying away, possibly due to its sensitivity.

At the end of these workshops, our new lichenologists participated in a neighbourhood lichen inventory to study abundance and its relation to air quality. By tracking two common species, Physcia millegrana and Candelaria concolor, we can monitor air quality over time. As lichen is very sensitive to air pollution and cannot survive in areas where concentrations are too high, the more lichen we see, the better.

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We used a simple yet effective citizen science method developed by Dr. George Sorger from McMaster University. By inspecting a maple or an ash tree for these two species, we can get a sense of the abundance in an area compared to another. Report coming soon with the 2018 results!

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This weekend, we got to take a field trip to the Amaolo Nature Sanctuary to compare the rural air quality with what we’ve been seeing in the city. There is a greater diversity out there, yet the impacts of the city and the 403 are still far-reaching.

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Photo: Ute Schmid-Jones

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Photo: Ute Schmid-Jones

We also introduced hundreds of kids to lichen and they are loving it! Now that they’ve spotting these organisms they’ve never previously noticed, they are hooked! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed their thoughtful questions and inspiring enthusiasm.

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Now how to improve the results of these lichen surveys? By reducing air pollution and PLANTING TREES! Thanks to all the volunteers who joined in our community tree planting, and residents who participated in our free tree giveaway. By getting more trees into the ground throughout our city, we can help capture particulate matter and clean the air. Hopefully another inventory in a few years time will show the results of these efforts and more to improve the air quality in Hamilton.

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Lichen in the City is a project of Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, generously supported by the Royal Bank of Canada.

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Ecosystem services provided by trees: Carbon Dioxide removal

As we went about conducting tree inventory throughout the last three years, Open Tree Map has been assessing the ecosystem services provided by each tree based on its size and species.

This Kentucky Coffeetree is removing 413 pounds of carbon dioxide annually as it photosynthesizes and grows. The larger the tree, the more carbon dioxide it is able to take out of the air and convert into biomass. Naturally removing a greenhouse gas simply in order to grow? Yes please!

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While the numbers for some of the smaller trees we measured do not look too impressive yet, we are reminded that these are big investments into the future. It is especially important to plan ahead now; perhaps you have a large Norway Maple on your front lawn and it’s doing fairly well, but now is the time to plant the Sugar Maple that will take over when that one dies in a few years!

Across the city, we see old trees that were all planted around the same time lining the streets in each neighbourhood. If all these trees age and come down at once, imagine how bare the street will be, and imagine cost of losing the ecosystem services these trees provide if we don’t plan ahead and plant today?