By Peter Wynnyczuk, Executive Director Ontario Urban Forest Council Regional Representative Ontario Region

Where did it all start?

In the late 1920’s tree services such as Davey, and Cedarvale started providing tree services to residents and businesses.

In the 1950’s with the arrival of Dutch Elm Disease, it highlighted tree care and removal in urban areas during this crisis which occurred before bucket trucks and light chainsaws. Ontario Shade Tree Council, OSTC, pre Ontario Urban Forest Council, OUFC, formed at University of Toronto, with Eric Jorgenson and others to identify opportunities to reduce the prevalence of Dutch Elm disease.

One of the outcomes of development in the 1960’s and 70’s was the formation of Urban Forestry Section in Municipalities. This trend continued to spread as maturing urban trees required the attention and increased tree planting programs due to development pressures. This help to develop tree inventories and better maintenance practices.

Due to trees being removed for development in the High Park Area in the 1990’s, City of Toronto Council passed a private tree bylaw. This concept has spread to many other municipalities since.

Urban Forest Management Plans, UFMP, gained momentum in the early part of this century for more developed municipalities. Ice storms have focussed on results of poorly managed trees with resulting hardship.

Where are we now?

Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests, LEAF, Green Infrastructure Ontario, GIO, Neighbourwoods programs, community groups all contribute to greening efforts.

Provincial Policy Statement notes Green infrastructure and the future impacts of Cap and Trade on municipalities when finalized by the Province. Community outreach, tree planting consultation on private lands, workshops around urban forest issues, community plantings are all part of the matrix of activities in Ontario Region by many organizations.

Some challenges:

Consumer protection and worker safety are of significant concern that may lead to licencing or mandatory Arborist status in future. Ministry of Labour is carrying out a safety blitz of Tree services in Spring/Summer 2016.

Not being a regulated trade, creates challenges for consumers and increases risks for employees who lack proper training in this post “Ice Storm of 2013” period. A unique Heritage tree situation is the Coral Gables Oak protection, which will be an interesting project. The City of Toronto is involved in the matter. Stay tuned for this one.

Storms, short-term challenges, and imported pests create significant long-term challenges with eventual species extinction due to importation of invasive pests, “the uncosted aspect of International Trade”.

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