Dear Oakvillegreen members and supporters,
Look up and you’ll notice that Oakville’s 2 million odd trees have just begun leafing out. However, this spring our hard-working urban trees are getting some much needed attention for a very different reason.
Town Council has just adopted an updated Private Tree Protection Bylaw (see more information on Town website here). At Oakvillegreen Conservation Association we are applauding this added layer of protection and congratulating town staff and Council for their leadership in preserving our urban forest.
As residents we derive many benefits from having a robust tree population, and we also shoulder a large share of the responsibility for protecting trees. Oakville’s trees perform environmental services whose combined annual value is equivalent to $2.93 million. The benefits derived from urban trees, including shade, carbon sequestration, flood prevention, biodiversity, and health benefits for humans, accrue to us all. Also, because a lot of the land in Oakville is in the hands of private property owners and more than half of our current urban forest canopy cover (57%) is on private land, Oakville residents are the direct stewards of an immensely valuable community asset.
Unfortunately, under the notification provisions of the previous tree bylaw, we saw a steady loss of healthy trees with very little replanting or compensation. In the past 8 years, based on Notification Forms received by the town, more than 435,000 square meters of Oakville’s total healthy tree canopy was removed on private property. This is equal to 107 acres or 43 hectares of healthy tree canopy lost since 2009!
A healthy urban forest requires replanting, stewardship and conservation in equal measure. Planting native trees is something Oakvillegreen Conservation Association has been doing and will continue to do. Over the last 13 years, Oakvillegreen and our volunteers and partners have planted over 20,000 trees in our community.
We are encouraged that the updated private tree protection bylaw is now in place to also help us protect our current tree canopy. The updated bylaw allows town arborists to advise landowners about other options for tree care, to permit tree removals when they are justified, and to ensure that canopy cover lost due to approved removals is replaced. Reasonable exemptions identified in the bylaw ensure landowners continue to have some flexibility.
We look forward to working with residents to continue to protect and enhance our urban forest!