Greater Victoria losing trees at an alarming rate, study says
Sarah Petrescu / Times Colonist
July 28, 2013
Greater Victoria lost the equivalent of 12 Beacon Hill Parks in tree cover over six years, according to a study by the non-profit society Habitat Acquisition Trust.
“We all have a sense we’re losing trees but the sheer mass of tree cover lost was surprising,” said executive director Adam Taylor.
The amount of tree cover loss and the rate at which it happens in developing regions is cause for alarm, Taylor said.
“How are these municipalities going to manage stormwater when they’re losing trees at this rate?” Taylor asked.
“Trees literally suck up water, prevent it from cascading in those big floods with costly messes. They retain water during the dry periods. They also absorb air pollution and clean the air. As we lose trees, taxpayers will pay for that.”
The study compared aerial photos of the capital region taken in 2005 and 2011. Using Geographic Information Systems software, tree loss and development in the 13 municipalities were mapped, charted and analyzed. The report was funded in part by the Capital Regional District and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C.
The study showed Saanich lost the most treed land over the six-year period: 378 hectares, equivalent to 146 of the University of Victoria’s Finnerty Gardens.
“The cause wasn’t anything specific — which was interesting and a bit shocking,” Taylor said.
The disappearance of trees in Saanich appears to be the result of urbanization and a multitude of small, changing land-use projects, rather than major building developments.
Langford lost the second-most land — 118 hectares — with the loss driven by development in areas such as Bear Mountain and Westhills, Taylor said.
Victoria lost the greatest percentage of treed land. While 42 hectares might not seem like a lot, it is 8.8 per cent of the city’s little remaining tree cover, Taylor said.
Saanich aims to stem loss of tree canopy
By Kyle Slavin - Victoria News
Published: June 20, 2013 8:00 AM
Updated: June 20, 2013 8:58 AM
With the amount of tree canopy cover in Saanich eroding, the municipality is looking to toughen up its existing tree preservation bylaw in hopes of protecting what’s left of the urban forest.
The changes include adding more species – grand fir and big leaf maple – to Saanich’s list of protected trees, and reducing the size threshold for cutting to put even more protections on seedlings and young trees on private property.
“We lost about 2.5 per cent of our canopy cover between 2005 and 2009, which equated to about 280 hectares of canopy cover,” said Cory Manton, Saanich’s manager of urban forestry, horticulture and natural areas.
“If this trend continued forever, you’re going to find an imbalance at some point where the trees are no longer going to provide the benefits that they do for us today.”
Besides the things that trees do for the environment, etc they're also an important part of the landscape here. Where would we be without our arbutuses & garry oaks?