Considering Diversity, Social Inclusion, and Equity through Urban Forest Collaborations

Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD

Dr. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, PhD, Manager, Urban Forestry Programs and Research Development Dre. Adrina C. Bardekjian, MFC, Ph.D., Gestionnaire des programmes forestiers urbains et du développement de la recherche

At Tree Canada we do more than plant trees. A tree alone does not build a community simply by its presence; however, a community can be built around a tree when people are mobilized and engaged in various ways, and on multiple levels.

In the past year, our Engagement and Research activities have expanded nationally and internationally to embrace the current global trends in urban forestry and how they relate to better urban forest planning and management: these include society and nature relationships, stewardship, civic engagement, resilience and reciprocity, gender and labour equity, and much more.

Being mindful of current national and international discourses in urban natural resource management have led to being more intentional about the activities and collaborations we pursue as a national organization in Canada. We have curated and collaborated with diverse and interdisciplinary teams who think more broadly and holistically about urban forests and greenspace management.

Some of our activities this past year have included:

• Participating in various working groups, roundtables and engagement sessions, including a task force led by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to develop an Urban Forest Sustainability Standard, and continued participation on the global Women’s Forestry Congress.

• Participating in three of Natural Resource Canada’s initiatives including a think-tank to develop a pan-Canadian Urban Forest Strategy; a sector-specific roundtable for forestry to discuss proposed legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and sessions around their commitment to plant 2 billion trees over the next ten years offering insights for program development on urban and community forestry from both applied and social perspectives.

• Continuing to work with the Canadian Urban Forest Network (CUFN) National Steering Committee to expand our tree expert community by encouraging discussion on the CUFN listserv (CANUFNET), and writing articles to share regional updates in urban forestry planning and operations.

• Presenting at several virtual events including Arbor Day’s Tree Cities of the World conference, a panel discussion at Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference, The Nature of Cities International Festival, and speaking to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

• Organizing two urban forest e-lecture series in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Forestry; first on the topics of forest monitoring, managing impacts of EAB, and seed sourcing in Canada (November 2020); and second on current urban forestry research in Canada and bridging academic and industry sectors (June/July 2021).

• Initiating an international monthly discussion series on Women in Urban Natural Resources Management in collaboration with the US Forest Service. Episodes are available online. Our next episode is on Women in Urban Research (June 16, 2021).

• Contributing to nine ongoing research collaborations with diverse partners that contend with: community outreach and inclusion; gender equity in Canada’s forest sector; municipal urban forest research needs; professional development training; urban trees and public health; mapping urban forestry stewardship in Canada; food security and social capital.

• Planning for our next Canadian Urban Forest Conference (CUFC 2022) in collaboration with the City of Charlottetown, PEI.

As I reflect on the global pandemic crisis of the past year, the rise in public consciousness around the need for urban greenspaces has never been greater, nor has the uptake of urban forestry and greenspaces on political, economic, and social agendas. As a social scientist, I am proud to be working with Tree Canada and I am grateful for the unparalleled dedication and commitment that our staff and affiliates bring to their work.

Tree Canada’s growth, maturity, and resilience as an organization, has shifted to actively include the social dimensions of urban forestry and think more critically about what it means to manage urban forests using a more holistic lens. The internal and external support that Tree Canada’s Engagement and Research unit has gained, particularly in the past two years, has allowed us to examine our strategies and better integrate broader narratives in urban forestry, like diversity and inclusion, into our programs and way of work, which has led to more effective collaborations between academic, industry and government partners, to help push the urban forest envelope forward, and contribute to more equitable urban greenspaces for Canadian communities.


For reference:

Bardekjian, A. (2019). Beyond Trees: Engagement and Research at Tree Canada. Tree Canada Blog; June 21, 2019.

Bardekjian, A. (2018). Compendium of best urban forest management practices. Second Edition. Originally commissioned to Tree Canada by Natural Resources Canada.

Bardekjian, A. (2018). Over the Years We Grow: National Scale Progress in Engagement and Research at Tree Canada. The Nature of Cities; May 8, 2017.

Bardekjian, A. & Chiriac, G. (2018). Interests and expectations: Results of the Canadian Urban Forest Network member survey. Tree Canada: Ottawa, ON.

Bardekjian, A. (2017). Look More Closely, Think More Deeply: Experiences from the 2017 US Forest Service International Urban Forestry Seminar. The Nature of Cities; July 23, 2017. Also published in the Fall 2017 issue of City Trees magazine.

Daniel, A. (2021). Quebec Urban Forestry Update. March 1, 2021. Tree Canada website.

Fraser, H. (2021). Atlantic regional urban forest update. January 25, 2021. Tree Canada website.

Larouche, J., Rioux, D., Bardekjian, A., & Gélinas, N. (2021). Urban forestry research needs identified by Canadian municipalities. The Forestry Chronicle. 2(97).

Wolf, K., Lam, S., McKeen, J., Richardson, G., van den Bosch, M., & Bardekjian, A. (2020). Urban Trees and Human Health: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17, 4371.

Ziter, C., Mitchell, M., Bardekjian, A., Conway, T., Danyluk, A., Molnar, M., Pachcinski, M., Podur, J., Schaefer, V., Clark, J. & Murphy, S. (2018). Connecting Urban Planners and Urban Ecologists to Create Sustainable Canadian Cities. The Nature of Cities; September 17, 2018.


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