By Lanny Englund, City of Coquitlam – CUFN Pacific Region Representative
Urban Forestry continues to evolve and grow in British Columbia. We are a diverse region with respect to climate, communities and trees. Across this broad spectrum we are seeing increased awareness of the critical role that Urban Forestry plays in our communities. One tangible result of this increasing awareness is the growing list of communities that have either completed or are in the process of completing Urban Forest Strategies or Plans.
Canada’s First Undergraduate Urban Forestry Program
Just last fall the University of British Columbia launched Canada’s first undergraduate Urban Forestry degree program. Students of this program have already begun entering the workforce in the Region in co-op positions. It will be exciting to watch the growth of this program and see how these graduates help to shape urban forestry within the Region and across the country in the future.
Metro Vancouver, the regional government responsible for Greater Vancouver, is developing a Climate Adaptation Strategy and in 2015 hired a consulting team to work with local Urban Forestry stakeholders on Urban Forest Adaptation Guidelines. This work involved an analysis of the best climate modelling available for the region to look at the implications for the Urban Forest in the Metro Vancouver area. Based on these findings, the Guidelines contain comprehensive recommendations for developing and managing the Urban Forest to ensure resiliency in the face of the expected change in climate. This type of forward planning is a critical piece in Urban Forest management and by doing this work on the regional scale it will provide invaluable guidance to all 21 member municipalities in the Metro Vancouver region.
Canadian Urban Forest Conference
With the 2016 Canadian Urban Forest Conference (CUFC) in Laval, Quebec, this fall fast approaching it is time for those communities out west hoping to host the 2018 conference to put together their proposals. The City of Vancouver in partnership with the University of British Columbia are working on a submission for the 2018 conference and are also in discussions with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (PNW-ISA) exploring the option of a joint CUFC/PNW-ISA conference.
Pacific Region Moving Forward
Last November saw the first ever CUFN Pacific Region Workshop that was part of a Canada-wide series of workshops funded by TD Bank. This was a successful event that clearly demonstrated a desire to connect and share information amongst urban forestry practitioners in the region. In light of this interest, we are looking to host a follow-up event this October where we will be looking to identify specific actions that interested individuals are willing to work on to further the goals of the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy within the Pacific Region. One of the topics we plan to discuss is the potential for a paid part time person to increase the capacity within region and support those volunteering their time on CUFN initiatives. If this is of interest to you please stay tuned for more detailed information and an invitation for the October session.