Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tree Canopy Project (Ottawa)

Article from last fall (2012): Tree canopy project looking to gauge value to community, Old Ottawa South pilot to catalogue types, numbers - News - By Michelle Nash Ottawa West Local Community News

A tree canopy project taking place in Old Ottawa South plans to identify types of trees growing in area parks and the value the trees offer the neighbourhood and city.

On Oct. 11, a group of Old Ottawa South residents, Carleton University students, officials from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Heather Hamilton, a former forests and green space advisory committee chairwoman, gathered to count the tree canopy in Brewer Park.

Hamilton said she got involved because she was looking for a fun community project and since the city is only taking stock of street trees but not in parks, it was just right.

"We're filling in the gap." she said.

The objective of the project, which is also taking a canopy count in Windsor Park, is to use the data collected to prepare a report which will include information on all the trees in the park. The report will include location maps and global positioning system data, pictures, species and size of the trees.

"It would be nice for us to get a picture from both the neighbourhood and city perspective," Hamilton said. "To see how much parks are contributing to the overall health of the city."

She explained such factors as a tree's contribution to controlling storm water run-off, air pollution and local weather temperatures.

"Without trees, it would be hotter, more polluted and your basement might be flooded," Hamilton said.

The catalyst for this project has been the emerald ash borer. The beetle has burrowed itself in ash trees all over the city and as a result thousands have been lost. For Mike Lascelles, chairman of the Ottawa South Community Association environment committee, this project will help the neighbourhood have a better understanding of what types of trees are in the parks and whether any existing ash trees are healthy.

This canopy count will help the Old Ottawa South community have an idea the amount of trees that will potentially be lost in the parks.

"We can put a plan together to replace the trees, if need be," he said. "Things are really in tough shape there (at Windsor Park), with 30 to 40 emerald ash that are on death row, wind damaged trees and vandalized trees."

Planting is nothing new for Lascelles and the environment committee. More than 15 years ago, he and other members of the neighbourhood planted around 300 trees in Brewer Park, along the river, in an effort to protect the habitat. The only thing is, at the time, they did not keep a record of what species were planted, so now they are taking note of the diversity, which is a difficult task,

Scott Danford and Dan Cooper from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority are also helping with the project.

"Sometimes it can be very hard, these guys are the experts, it is great to have them," Lascelles said.

Erika Rose, a fourth year environmental sciences student at Carleton is one of the students participating.

For Rose, being out in the field is the best kind of experience she can get and having the opportunity to do her research in Brewer Park, her neighbourhood, is even better.

"I thought it would be cool to do something in the neighbourhood where I interact and live," Rose said. "It is better than just reading about it. Here you are in the field, learning first hand."

The project, Hamilton said is something neighbourhoods across the city can also start.

"Anyone can do this, as long as you can access some sort of expert for the identifying," Hamilton said. "Certain aspects are not difficult, and some keen naturalists could do it."

The group will complete the Brewer Park and Windsor Park counts, Hamilton said, by mid-October.

Once the inventory is done will there be some thought in terms of planting more diverse and native trees as per Diana Beresford-Kroeger?

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