The city’s tree cover has decreased from 25% in 2008 to 23% in 2015, representing the loss of 180,000 trees mainly due to the losses of ash trees from the emerald ash borer.
Shelia Creighton is the Partnerships and Marketing Manager for Reforest London, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing environmental and human health in the Forest City through the benefits of trees.
She said, “Our tree cover in London is sadly very low, it’s in the low 20s, maybe 23% and it should be way higher, should be almost 40% for a healthy environment.”
“With the emerald ash borer, we lost probably around 400,000 trees, that is the city of London’s number, and of course we are trying to replant to make up for that, as well as the tree loss through development, through disease, etc.”
She said all of us can get involved to make the city greener, “Everyone in London can make a difference, everyone can plant trees, give money for trees, we encourage businesses to get involved, getting their staff out planting trees, there is a lot of ways to get involved.”
This year in particular, Reforest London partners up with the Forest City Road Races to raise funding.
“That is a new initiative that we are being part of this year in the form of having racers in the race and it is in the aim of raising money, so participants can join a team on the Forest City Road Races, our team, we have a Reforest team or they can form their own team.”
“We are encouraging people to participate, they don’t have to be heavy duty runners, they can even walk the 5 kilometers and still take pledges.”
To reaffirm London as the “forest city”, In Plant More Tree Planning Strategy 2017-2021, the city council approved a target of 34% tree canopy cover by 2065.
The Strategy reads, “To achieve our Forest City goal of 34% tree canopy cover, we need to grow additional tree canopy over and area of 2,430 hectares by 2065.”
Kelsey Nicholls is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Reforest London, she said, “If they want the (ash) trees in your yard to be cut down, I would say call the city because they might need a permit, but if they want to replace the tree, we have our tree depot program where we give free trees to home owners.”
“We always encourage people to plant a mixture of trees because the more species there are, as long as they are native, encourages the health of the urban forest.”