International Women’s Day 2022: Martha Copestake

Tree Canada


Martha Copestake

Martha Copestake, MFC, BScFE

Forester – Planning, Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development, City of Ottawa

1. What are your proudest accomplishments?

I am most proud of the work that I’ve done to significantly raise the profile of urban trees in planning decision-making in Ottawa. Both tree retention and allocating adequate space for tree planting are finally becoming a key part of early development discussions. This has happened through my work on the development and implementation of a strategic Urban Forest Management Plan for the city, a new Tree Protection By-law that puts a stronger focus on protecting trees in infill development, and, more recently, the new urban forest policies my colleagues and I brought to Ottawa’s new Official Plan.

I do feel like I’m a broken record on the value of retaining and protecting trees – and I have been for so long. So, I am pleased to see the conversations changing now; trees are being considered earlier in new developments, and overall, the important value of urban trees is much better recognized. Even though things are improving, I’ve still got lots of work to do!

I’m also really proud of my two nature-loving kids, Claire and Maisey.

2. How has the urban forestry field changed since you first entered the profession and what are the biggest opportunities ahead for women in your field?

Urban forestry has grown quite a bit since I started working in the field 15 years ago. Now there are so many diverse opportunities for women in urban forestry. From policy to tree maintenance to planting to community stewardship to planning and tree protection. There are jobs with municipalities, conservation authorities, NGOs and non-profits, planning firms, engineering firms, and the list goes on. Tree expertise is needed in cities in so many ways. 

3. What is one piece of advice you have for young girls and women that want to get into the urban forestry field?

Urban Forestry is as much about people as it is about trees. If you are passionate about trees and people and how important trees are for people, then cities need you!

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