By Heather Fraser, CUFN Atlantic Representative

The Atlantic Urban Forest Collective held its first workshop entitled Planning for Climate, Insects and Disease in our Urban Forests on January 13, 2015. The high numbers of attendees included university educators, representatives from municipal and provincial governments, certified arborists, foresters, forest technicians, developers, town planners, landscape architects, utilities (NB Power) and students from many fields of study related to tree care and management.

The objective of the workshop was to bring together a diverse group of people that share passion for trees and forests and begin to build management strategies (including communication plans) on the value of healthy trees to the community and society as a whole. The intent was to facilitate an open dialogue by learning from each other and sharing respective challenges and successes.

Speakers from various disciplines looked at the aspects of climate change and how to plan now for what tree species to plant (native/non native) that will survive in the future, as far as extreme weather events (wind and rain-flash flooding, shorter growing season, etc.), the increase in overall air and water temperatures and most critical forest pests (Emerald Ash Borer– EAB).

Examples of current and past work were shared with attendees, such as a concept from a community developer around tree management around new homes. Building new homes around existing trees and working with them to focus on environmental sustainability was key to this project. A local landscaping company also stressed the importance of planting “the right tree in the right place” – the importance of carefully taking stock of species, size, health, soil compaction, surrounding environment, location of buildings in proximity, etc before choosing the appropriate tree.

The threat of EAB was discussed by attendees from Mississauga, Ontario, who remarked that, “We are only one day’s drive away from EAB”. An Urban Forest Master Plan and EAB Management Plan was shared to help foresters, city officials, etc. gain the tools and knowledge necessary to begin making preventative plans for their own communities.

Another priority that was identified by many speakers was the creation/inclusion of a street tree inventory and a forest management plan to help manage and budget for trees long-term.

Other topics included a discussion on subtropical storm Arthur that went through New Brunswick in July. Lessons were shared on how to deal with downed trees, power lines and public safety.

The utility company perspective from NB Power incorporated all of the above topics and highlighted the challenges they have in offering their delivering service to New Brunswick, which sparked a high level of discussion from participants. As communities grow and weather events occur, similar issues and priorities in relation to tree care arise and must be dealt with in a timely and effective manner.

There is still work to be done. It is encouraging seeing that all the workshop participants are engaged and working at different stages towards improving their communities in relation to trees and tree maintenance. Trees do matter and their value will only increase as communities go through crises and work hard to ensure they not only survive, but thrive in challenging circumstances.

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