As the new CEO of Tree Canada, I am excited to have joined the team in time for National Tree Day!

National Tree Day is a meaningful way to reflect on the positive impact that trees have on our lives and to celebrate all that they have to offer. From cleaning the air to managing stormwater to storing CO2, urban forests play an integral role in our health and well-being. Admittedly, I am not an arborist or a forester, but I don’t have to be one to understand the tangible benefits of trees, including the economic benefits. I can see how a tree can increase the value of a property, and I can understand why tourists flock to places like Saskatoon, The Forks in Winnipeg, or Mount Royal in Montreal, just to enjoy the trees.

And while I am not a tree expert, I am a tree lover and a nature lover. Throughout my career, I promoted nature programs like Hinterland Who’s Who with the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Federation (those of you who are old enough will remember that haunting flute at the beginning of each public service announcement). I also worked for Trans Canada Trail – the organization that created the longest network of recreational trails in the world – promoting the value of the Trail to Canadians and abroad.

This is certainly an exciting time for trees! There has been so much research on the benefits of trees and their potential as a nature-based solution to mitigate the effects of climate change, and many of us have heard about incredibly ambitious, countrywide projects taking place, some from as far as India and Ethiopia.

But perhaps even more importantly, there has been lots of discussion and awareness at the community level. People are talking about trees and caring about trees more and more. As the new leader of Canada’s only national urban forestry organization, I will do my best to capitalize on this interest and attention so that we can plant more trees, educate more people about the importance of trees and inspire more people to support our cause, which will, in turn, allow us to green the cities where you live and breathe.

Happy National Tree Day and thanks for your support.

Now go out and hug a tree!