Seeds planted for Hamil­ton’s new ur­ban forestry strat­egy

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN mvan­don­gen@thes­pec.com 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

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“What in­ven­tory num­bers we have right now are quite out of date,” said Plosz — par­tic­u­larly since the city be­gan cut­ting down thou­sands of trees the in­va­sive emer­ald ash borer killed.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.

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