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New threats to our forests continue to emerge.


late 1970s. Urban forest related non-profit’s and community groups such as the Ontario Urban Forest Council, LEAF in Toronto, Trees London and Tree Ottawa are an integral part of Ontario’s urban forest fabric – providing services and programs and advocating for the urban forest. The motivation by communities, governments, individu-


als and non-profit organizations to advance urban forestry seems to be firmly linked to natural disasters. The advent of DED in the 1940s brought an intense awareness of Canada’s urban forests. Owing to its vase-like form and tolerance to urban condi-


tions, the American elm was long considered “the perfect street tree”. The reality of watching their destruction in most of Canada’s eastern cities forever changed the professional management of Canada’s urban forests. New university positions were created, regulations and bylaws were enact- ed, professionals were hired, an urban forestry consultant community was established, tree non-profit organizations were created, disease/insect control products were devel- oped and the creation of new (although somewhat limited) federal and provincial urban forestry programs all resulted. The Great Ice Storm of 1998, when up to 100 millimetres


of ice coated trees in a huge area of eastern North America demonstrated the value in regular and correct pruning of urban trees. As result of the accumulation of ice, thousands of trees, particularly those that were pruned poorly or not at all were destroyed. Stanley Park in Vancouver in 2003 and Point Pleasant in Halifax in 2006 were affected by huge storms and forced to rewrite its management plans and park strategies. More recently, emerald ash borer and Asian long- horn beetle have had us look critically at the management of our urban forests once again. As a result of Dutch elm disease, a new search rapidly


in the 1980s began for the next “perfect urban tree”: ash (white, green and black) were then widely-planted through- out North America. In 2002 the emerald ash borer was detected in Windsor, Ont. and quickly spread to every


40 • Fall 2016


city in southern Ontario and Quebec, with the number of removals exceeding those that had been lost to the elms. Asian longhorn beetle can infest a broader spectrum of hardwoods species. It is a local (but troubling) imported insect but its control seems to be slightly easier than that of the ash borer.


Moving forward Recently, there has been progress in advancing urban


forests. By 1990, all of Canada was covered by one of five chapters of the International Society of Arboriculture. In 1992 the government created Tree Plan Canada/National Community Tree Foundation (now Tree Canada) to engage Canadians in the care of their urban forests. An early action was to organize the first Canadian Urban Forest Confer- ence in Winnipeg in 1993. From 1994 to 1999 the Univer- sity of Toronto maintained the Urban Forest Centre under its director, Dr. Andy Kenney. In 2000, “urban forestry” was defined the Ontario Professional Foresters Act. A key advance was the integration of urban forests in the fifth national forest strategy in 2003, leading to the formation of the Canadian Urban Forest Network (2004) and the Cana- dian Urban Forest Strategy (2008). Canada is a young country with a strong urban forest


history, despite the lack of presence by the upper levels of government (unlike most of the G8 countries). There are signs that this is changing. With the combination of indi- vidual commitment, and experience learned from the trials and errors of various natural disasters, these forests have now a much better chance of developing into the poten- tial they deserve. As Canada increasingly urbanizes, there is little doubt that its citizens will be increasingly demanding the ecosystem services that these forests provide. x Mike Rosen is the president of Tree Canada. This is adapted


from an article previously published in Histoires forestières du Québec, Hiver 2015 Vol. 7, No 1, Pages 27-32. For a list of refer- ences from this article please visit treecanada.ca/en/resources/ publications/.


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