Urban trees are part of the natural capital that protects our economic and social well-being. They buffer noise, reduce stormwater runoff, and provide habitat for wildlife. The City of Vancouver has set a goal of planting 150,000 trees by 2020. With the help of a team of citizen foresters, this ambitious goal is closer than ever. See how training gives these volunteers the skills to help the city get greener.
In False Creek’s Creekside Community Centre, a group of Vancouverites are taking a free course on becoming citizen foresters. Tree City Executive Director David Tracey explains the program.
“Citizen foresters are volunteers we train to be able to train others how to plant and take care of trees.”
The City of Vancouver’s ambitious goal to plant 150,00 trees by 2020 is part of a broad effort to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world over the next 6 years.
“So our goal to plant 150,000 trees is an ambitious goal,” says Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer. “It’s actually not that difficult to plant them, the challenge is keeping them alive and keeping them thriving, so having citizen foresters means that wherever that tree is in the city we’ve got people on the ground who will be able to look after that tree.”
“Trees provide a lot of benefits,” adds Reimer. “Obviously they provide some aesthetics to our residents that they really enjoy, but they are also really important for water management and especially as the climates is changing we need to have adaptation strategies and they are very important for shade. “
Tracey says the program fuels more than just the city’s green ambitions.
“When we get around trees we just feel something, we feel a connection, and I think that’s why people are joining the program, that’s why people become citizen foresters, that’s why we sold more than 3000 trees this spring, all online, because the people have a need for these trees, they can’t articulate it, (but) it’s definitely there.”
“We set policy goals at city hall, we have staff who implement them but ultimately its the residents who own those policies,” says Reimer. “So making sure that they have some kind of a way of connecting with them is really important for the city and it’s exciting to see the growth of the forester program.”