I am very humbled to introduce myself as the new Quebec Representative, CUFN Steering Committee with Tree Canada. A trained biologist, I am motivated by this position in many aspects. Like all of you who are reading these lines, trees have always fascinated me! When I was a child, I dreamt about building a tree house in which I would live like Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer’s friend. I belong to Generation X and therefore grew up with the development of our knowledge about trees and the evolution of the way we see them. I’ve been working in urban forestry for 20 years. I’ve worked as a consultant for the first five years of my career. This experience has enabled me to become an expert in phytosanitary problems affecting trees. After that, I’ve held several positions at the City of Montreal, including two as an arboriculture inspector, two others as a research officer and, since 2009, I’ve been working as a planning advisor within the “Service des grands parcs, du Mont-Royal et des sports” (the department dedicated to large parks, Mount Royal, and sports). My main responsibilities working for the City consist in fighting the impacts of the emerald ash borer and strengthening our urban canopy.
Sadly, the pandemic we are experiencing has slowed down plantings in several regions across the country, but it makes us aware of another, more subtle benefit of urban trees. Indeed, we have never seen such an eloquent proof of the impact of having access to trees on our mental health. Although they were already recognized for a wide variety of benefits, urban trees’ reputation is now obvious. It is actually a euphemism since even the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) now supports an international urban forestry program called Tree Cities of the World.
Of course, trees are not only useful to fight pollution in cities. They are also our best ally to efficiently fight against climate changes since they are able to capture greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our past. Every planted tree therefore offers a hope that we’ll be able to maintain the global warming under 2°C as targeted by the Paris Agreement. It is however an ambitious project. Several studies, including a more recent one show that millions of hectares of forest cover will be necessary to succeed. The good news is that we can all contribute to this noble cause, and opportunities to do so are multiplying. The recent commitment from the federal government to plant 2 billion trees is a good example.
With its own challenges, urban forestry also does its part to contribute to this global solution. In Quebec like everywhere in Canada, several cities have already begun implementing measures with an objective to reduce their carbon footprint. All these efforts also include planting initiatives to offset the GHG emissions that can’t be avoided and to counter the impacts of climate changes like heat islands. For example, the City of Montréal has just launched its Climate Plan for 2020-2030. This plan includes the planting, maintenance and protection of 500,000 new trees!
Although challenges are not always the same depending on the city, they are all working toward a common goal: maintain and improve their urban forest to ensure the quality of life of future generations. This highlights the importance of interactions between the cities. If I’ve learned one thing in my work, it’s precisely the benefit of networking to solve our challenges. You never know, someone might have tried it already! We never start from scratch! The work I’ve accomplished these past few years has enabled me to build an excellent network in Quebec, in Ontario and in the United States. Tree Canada is the link I was missing to connect with the other eight Canadian provinces. With a distribution list of 967 members, Tree Canada’s network is a wealth of information about urban forestry.
That is why I have decided to offer my skills in order to maximize the benefits of Quebec interactions with this network, but I can’t do it without you. My first ambition is therefore very simple: I want to know everything that is being done in Quebec in this field and share it. If you have adopted a plan to plant trees, developed a new innovative tool to optimize your urban forest management, started a new study, or if you are faced with challenges you are looking to solve, send me an email!