Thunder Bay Recognizes Importance of Urban Forest

Urban forest management plan suggest city be proactive in tree maintenance

By Leith Dunick,

The city’s trees are a valuable commodity that need to be protected and nurtured, says the author of a study looking at Thunder Bay’s urban forest management strategy.
“Thunder Bay has room to improve,” said Skip Kincaid of the Davey Resource Group. “Every city has room to improve their urban forest program. But in terms of the budget that they’re dealing with here, I think they’re doing an excellent job.

In terms of net value, city-owned trees are worth about $851,000 to the economy each year, after the $700,000 cost to maintain them is factored into the equation.

They also remove 13,525 kilograms of pollutants from the air, retain 78,606 cubic metres of storm water runoff from city sewers and reduce carbon dioxide levels by 2.5 million kilograms annually.

Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds said while he knew public trees were valuable, seeing an actual number attached was a bit shocking.
“The magnitude surprised me and I was really intrigued by the model (Kincaid) presented to quantify how valuable they are because it is much more then that tree is beautiful,” Foulds said.
Utimately he’d like to see the city, which spends three-tenths of a per cent of its annual budget on forestry management, create a healthy, sustainable urban forest that adds to the economic, social and environmental vitality of the city.

“Frankly, I knew we were on the low end of investment in urban forest, but I didn’t think we were that low,” Foulds said. “I was surprised. We saw the cost-benefit analysis, the two-for-one, and I guess what I’m going to be looking for is what is the appropriate investment to maximize that cost-benefit analysis, to maximize our storm-water management, to maximize our aesthetics, to maximize our energy.
“In the last five years the number of trees removed by the City of Thunder Bay has exceeded the number of trees planted by the City of Thunder Bay,” he said. “If the trend continues it doesn’t bode well.”

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