Often when we think about planning a city, we focus on elements such as roads, bridges, transit and buildings. We think about how we can shape the world around us to better suit our needs, but we cannot overlook the natural world and the impact it has on us individually and on our city as a whole.
For years, researchers have been telling us about the benefits of nature, and specifically trees, in our urban landscape. The most obvious being the reduction of CO2 gases and other pollutants that contribute to adverse health outcomes and also climate change. But what is not discussed as regularly are the many other positives that come with tree-lined streets, parks and valleys.
Trees reduce noise pollution, they are a natural way to keep our homes and streets cool which in turn can save us all money, and they can improve street safety by making roads appear narrower which tends to slow the speed of vehicles. Trees prevent soil erosion, act as a shield against wind and snow, provide shelter for wildlife and help to beautify our neighbourhoods. There is strong evidence that access to rich urban forests is a contributing factor to healthier cities due to their stress-relieving effects.
Whether you’re looking at the benefit of trees from the perspective of individual health or the well-being of our city, urban forestry has shown its worth. The City of Edmonton’s Urban Forestry Program is responsible for more than one million trees and takes great care evaluating plant diversity and hardiness as well as working to ensure our city flourishes for years to come. Edmonton is one of very few North American cities to mainly escape the ravages of Dutch Elm disease.
Urban Forestry assists residents by providing education on the pruning and planting of trees and operates the Old Man Creek Nursery. The Nursery was established in 1910, and on average handles 3,000 trees, 100,000 pieces of naturalized plants and over 3,500 shrubs annually. The City also runs our Roots for Trees program that partners with businesses, residents and community groups to help plant an additional 45,000 trees each year.
The benefit of urban trees and our urban forests cannot be understated. They save us money, keep us healthier and contribute to our overall happiness.
As always, I welcome your input on this and any other city matter. Please feel free to contact me at (780)496-8146, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ben_hen on Twitter.