‘Branching out’: Calgarians claim 2,000 trees to grow canopy – Calgary
The City of Calgary’s expanded “Branch Out” program is now closed after 2,000 trees were claimed by Calgary homeowners.
Through the application process, 500 trees were provided to interested citizens in each of the city’s four quadrants. Northeast was the last quadrant I visited to apply for the program.
Registration on Thursday took only 34 minutes due to high demand.
Mike Mahon, City of Calgary’s Chief of Urban Forestry, said: “We want to continue to monitor and grow[the program]and look forward to scaling it in the years to come.”
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The program aims to expand the city’s tree canopy by planting trees on private land. Canopy in Calgary is currently at 8.25% and the goal is to increase coverage to 16%. Approximately 70% of the canopy is composed of trees on private property.
The canopy is not evenly divided into all four quadrants. Communities in the Northeast, such as Falconridge, Saddletowne and CityScape, have only about 2% coverage, leading some residents to question the fairness of the city’s plantations.
“If you go to other areas and compare it with the Northeast, you will see that it is not enough,” said Farhana Raza, a resident of the Northeast. “There are certainly fewer trees in the park than necessary.”
“I think we should get more trees and get better trees in the area,” said Stephanie Dunham, who lives far northeast. There’s a dog park here, and it would be nice to see trees along the roads here like McKnight.”
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Mahon said the city is aware of the problem and is working to address some of the issues that cause differences in canopy coverage.
“Equity is a key metric that we monitor and aim to achieve,” he said. “There are unbiased metrics that we use when deciding where to plant public trees.”
The inequality between the western and eastern canopy cannot be solved by simply planting trees. The biodiversity of the city plays an important role, with river valleys and green areas on the west side and more grasslands on the east side.
“The processes and priorities we are working on include soil amendments, especially when planting trees in the northeast quadrant,” Mahon said.
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The eastern half of the city has many commercial and industrial sites, as well as new communities, so the trees there don’t provide as much canopy as their established neighbors.
Jana Vamosi, an ecology professor at the University of Calgary, said it was not surprising that trees in the eastern part of the city were struggling to grow. Soils away from rivers and water sources dry out faster when it rains than in river valleys.
She adds that growing trees in grasslands is challenging, but not impossible.
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“You can plant a little forest,” Bamoshi said. “If you plant different kinds of trees, he will likely have one of those kinds of trees that will suit the environment in which you are planting them.”
The City of Calgary’s Urban Forestry Strategic Plan plans to plant 91,000 saplings in parks, public spaces and roadsides this year.
Equity metrics are used to determine that location. That means more than half of the saplings will be planted on the east side of the city, with a focus on the northeast.
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