Park Board and City Grow the urban forest: 100,000 new trees and counting

May 3 2018

“In Vancouver we’ve worked hard to build clean, green neighbourhoods with the world’s most spectacular urban forest."

Trees lining a street

We have passed the milestone of 100,000 new trees planted in Vancouver since 2010 and are closing in on the civic goal of 150,000 new trees by 2020. 

Celebrating our achievement

To celebrate our achievements in restoring the forest canopy, Mayor Gregor Robertson, Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon, and a class of kindergarten students from Lord Nelson School planted three new trees at Templeton Park in East Vancouver on Thursday.  

The three trees planted today – a Zelcova, a Persian Ironwood and a Golden Catalpa – are ornamental trees chosen to shade the Templeton Park playground. This supports the strategy of planting in tree-deficient areas such as the Downtown Eastside, Marpole and False Creek Flats. 

“Vancouver is aiming to be the world’s greenest city and I’m pleased that we’re on track to meet our goal of planting 150,000 new trees by 2020,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “In Vancouver we’ve worked hard to build clean, green neighbourhoods with the world’s most spectacular urban forest. Thank you to the Urban Landscape team for all of your hard work and to the many Vancouver residents who are planting trees in your backyards to help us reach our 2020 goal.”

105,883 new trees since 2010

Today’s planting at Templeton Park brings the count to 105,883th new trees since 2010, enough to cover Stanley Park four times. About 55% of the new trees were planted in streets and parks while 45% were planted on private lands including backyards and development sites. 

“The Park Board remains committed to growing our urban forest well beyond 2020 with thousands of new trees planned for community parks, natural areas in large parks such as Jericho and Everett Crowley and in neighborhoods such as the Downtown Eastside where the canopy needs the most help,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. 

Trees are vital to our environment and daily lives. They provide shade and relief from urban heat, clean the air, provide a home for birds and wildlife, and are increasingly recognized for their health benefits. In cities around the world, the practice of “forest bathing” is spreading, as residents turn to urban forests as sources of emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. 

Spring tree sale

Beginning May 1, the Park Board is once again selling 3,000 trees at $10 apiece at its spring sale. The offerings include 26 varieties of flowering, fruit, and shade trees. Vancouver residents can pre-purchase trees online and pick them up at Hillcrest Centre on May 12 and May 13.

Since the Park Board’s first tree sale in 2015, more than 11,000 new trees have been sold at discount prices to Vancouver residents. The Park Board also has a nursery rebate program to encourage private planting. Residents can obtain a $20 discount on a $50 purchase at participating nurseries.

Planting by homeowners on private property remains the biggest area of opportunity to reverse tree loss through development and to replenish the canopy. In 2015, the canopy was estimated at 19 percent, down from 20% in 1995. The next canopy measurement is planned for later this year. 

Urban Forest Strategy

Earlier this week, the Park Board got an update on the Urban Forest Strategy outlining progress towards the goal of 150,000 new trees by the end of 2020. The priority actions are as follows: 

  • Increase street tree planting in the Downtown Eastside, Marpole, False Creek Flats and other priority neighbourhoods with low urban forest cover 
  • Restore natural forests in Stanley Park, Jericho, Musqueam, Everett Crowley and Renfrew Ravine and other large parks. By 2020, the Park Board will reforest more than 18 hectares in these areas
  • Expand the Park Stewards program to support volunteer and school –based stewardship of urban forests in parks
  • Provide funding, staff support and resources for stewardship organizations to undertake urban forest projects
  • Work with local First Nations and the urban aboriginal community to identify opportunities to develop culturally appropriate forest stewardship practices
  • Measure Vancouver’s urban forest canopy every 5 years 

The Urban Forest Update will be presented to City Council on May 16.