By: Hamilton Spectator
The city wants you to help grow a new urban forestry strategy.
Council signed off on $150,000 last year to hire a consultant to lead the creation of a strategy to grow, monitor and protect Hamilton’s urban tree canopy.
The two-year study is expected to include plenty of public feedback and consultation with environmental groups and agencies, said by project lead Cathy Plosz.
Eventually, the strategy will guide decisions about planting and maintaining trees in urban Hamilton — ideally, with help from beefed-up monitoring numbers.
“What inventory numbers we have right now are quite out of date,” said Plosz — particularly since the city began cutting down thousands of trees the invasive emerald ash borer killed.
“Knowing what we have will allow us to better manage the canopy in the future.”
It’s possible the city is losing ground in its stated goal to reach a 30 per cent urban forest cover. The city sat at an estimated 18 per cent when it passed a city-wide woodlands protection bylaw in 2014 — and before the invasive ash borer beetle took an even bigger bite out of Hamilton’s ash tree population.
Environment Hamilton head Lynda Lukasik said she’s encouraged work on the long-awaited strategy is underway.
That group, partnered with the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, has been using citizen volunteers to inventory trees in city neighbourhoods as part of its climate-change-fighting Trees Please program.
“We’re pretty excited. It’s the right thing to do for Hamilton,” said Lukasik. “That sort of co-ordination is going to help everyone who is already out there working on these issues.”
The strategy is not expected to be completed until 2019. A separate rural forest strategy is expected to be studied at a later date.
But Plosz said a consultant will be hired early this year, and consultation with interested groups and the public will occur throughout the two-year study.