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Our Response to UFORE

The City of London has just release the UFORE study, a report that details the species, health, size, location and value of our urban forest. The report summary and draft report are available on the City's website.

ReForest London applauds the City of London for undertaking the UFORE study. The results will give us much-needed data to create goals and strategies to improve the health of our urban forest, which in turn will improve all living things in the city.

News to Celebrate

  • We have a good diversity of trees, and 78% are in Good or Excellent health.
  • The report acknowledges the recommendations of American Forests and the targets of many other municipalities. American Forests recommends leaf cover levels of:
    40% overall
    50% in suburban residential zones
    25% in residential zones
    15% in central business district
    ReForest London encourages the City of London to adopt these targets.
  • The report recommends an Urban Forest Management Plan by Spring 2011. ReForest London supports this recommendation; an Urban Forest Management Plan will use UFORE and other studies to set targets, assess programs and strategies the city already has, and recommend new ones. ReForest London can assist in the development of this plan.
  • The report quantifies the value of trees to our environment through carbon sequestration and storage, air quality, energy use, and structural value. These measurements help us to better understand the immense value of trees, and can justify greater resources in protecting, maintaining, and expanding our “green infrastructure”.

Items of Concern

  • Only 50% of the trees are native. Native trees support native animals and other native plants, and support a healthier ecosystem.
  • Almost 1/5th (18.8%) of the trees are buckthorn, an invasive, non-native shrub that threatens the health of our urban forest and should be removed whenever possible.
  • Another tree that represents a very high level of leaf cover (8.5%) within the city is Norway Maple. This is another invasive, non-native species that threatens biodiversity.
  • Three-quarters of the trees are less than 15 cm in diameter. Most of these are small tree or species and shrubs that will never get very big. This means that our overhead leaf canopy will not get larger in time as these trees age.
  • Our leaf cover is just over half of the recommended amount of American Forests
  • Our woodland cover is just 7.3%, whereas the recommended amount by Environment Canada is 30%.
  • London’s leaf cover number includes shrubs as well as trees. This may prove a complication when comparing to other municipalities who may have limited their leaf cover to trees which actually provide a “canopy”.

For the Future

  • A just released Management Support Review of Forestry Services in the City of London estimates that just 3% of our trees are along city-owned boulevards, yet the vast majority of City tree planting funds are spent in planting and maintaining these trees. The report further estimates that 80% of new planting in parks, ESA’s and woodlands are done by community groups. The City should allocate additional resources and consider new policies that support and grow the 80% of trees not found along streets.
  • This same study also notes that 72% of trees are planted on private property and UFORE concludes that 77.5% of trees are in residential zones. To grow our urban forest, we must turn our attention to private lands, and support tree planting and protection on private property. ReForest London recommends a campaign to support residential yard trees through a process of education and empowerment supported by municipal subsidy modelled on the four successful programs delivered by ReForest London in Old East, Old South, Medway and Glen Cairn neighbourhoods.
  • ReForest London recommends that a more intense program of biodiversity management  be initiated for the removal and replacement of buckthorn.
  • To promote human health, ReForest London recommends that: (1) the plantable space (Figure 11) should be identified as an essential utility for green infrastructure; and (2) initiate a planting campaign based on appropriate species chosen by site attributes of sun, soil, moisture and matched to the underlying land use type in order to achieve optimal benefits.

ReForest London will present a more thorough analysis of the UFORE report with recommendations in the fall of 2010.