Improving our urban tree canopy and protecting our region’s existing trees – Tree canopy assessment

The wealth of green spaces is a defining element of Canada’s Capital Region, and a new study has been publicly released that measures the size of our extensive tree canopy – Tree Canopy Assessment: Canada’s Capital Region. The study has established that trees cover almost half (46 percent) of Ottawa–Gatineau, including all of the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) assets. This study, the very first for a region-wide mapping analysis of the tree canopy was implemented in collaboration with the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory.

When integrated with other data, such as property land use or demographic variables, the information and the maps in the Tree Canopy Assessment provides vital information about where to encourage more tree growth which will help governments and citizens chart a greener future.

Highlights of the Tree Canopy Assessment

• Seventy-four percent (74 percent) of NCC lands are covered by tree canopy, a result that reflects the number of parks and protected areas under NCC’s management. Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt contribute over 35,000 hectares of tree canopy.
• Ottawa’s urban area has 31 percent of its land covered by tree canopy; this includes the inner urban area bounded by the Greenbelt, as well as the suburban areas beyond the Greenbelt.
• Gatineau’s urban area, which includes farms and green spaces, has 45 percent of its land covered by tree canopy.

Mayor Jim Watson commended the study and looks forward to collaboration between all of the partners, while also committing to plant 500,000 more trees during this term of council. “Thanks to our partners at the NCC and Ville de Gatineau, the results of this Tree Canopy study will provide us with a tool to help prioritize our tree planting efforts. The City of Ottawa’s commitment includes planting 500,000 trees over this Term of Council, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate as we work to improve our urban tree canopy and protect our region’s existing trees for the benefit of our communities.”

The total cost of the Tree Canopy Assessment: Canada’s Capital Region study is approximately $31,000 shared among the three partners.  Interactive maps are available to the public to navigate the data. These maps will provide a large harvest of data for future research and analysis.

“The tree canopy assessment done by the National Capital Commission, City of Ottawa and Ville de Gatineau shows the growing importance of urban forests to Canada. With 83 percent of Canadians now living in urban areas, knowing more about the canopy cover and the benefits of trees to our communities is essential for municipal planning. This report is an excellent example for Canadian municipalities and a first step in line with the recommendations of the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy,” added Mike Rosen, President of Tree Canada.



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