Trinity Bellwoods Urban Forest Management Plan Summary

November 7, 2012

Mission and Goals of the strategic management plan The strategic mission and goals of the Trinity Bellwoods Urban Forest Management Plan are to support a sustainable urban forest by 1. Improving the diversity and resilience of the existing urban forest, 2. Increasing canopy cover, 3. Promoting community stewardship through education and outreach programs, and 4. Applying adaptive management1 to incorporate uncertainty and change Context of Plan Through direct communication with Trinity Bellwoods residence associations, the Toronto District School Board, city council, and the City of Toronto, five Master of Forest Conservation students from University of Toronto have initiated an urban forest strategic management plan for Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood. Framework The strategic management plan outlines the goals and objectives for a 20-year period and sets the context for the 5-year management plans. Only one 5-year management plan is in effect at a given time allowing for incorporation of new information based on past failures, successes, or changes in circumstance every five years. Annual operating plans are the most detailed and outline the specific actions to be taken to reach the management plan objectives. Figure 1 below describes this process.

Figure 1: Temporal breakdown of an urban forest management plan. The Trinity Bellwoods Management Plan will include the strategic plan, the beginning of a 5year management plan, and the annual operating plans for two years. Upon completion of a tree                                                             

Adaptive management is a term used to describe management based on the most up-to-date science and knowledge, the promotion of ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and the adjustment of those initial plans based on new findings and changes in circumstances.


inventory, which will describe the current state of the Trinity Bellwoods urban forest, a more detailed plan should be developed. Components 1. History of Trinity Bellwoods The physical and natural history of the Garrison Creek and Trinity-Bellwoods Park have had huge influences on the development of this urban neighborhood. The Trinity Bellwoods Park is situated in the historical Garrison Creek ravine, which still flows in a buried city storm sewer. The land, which was originally forested and only accessible by canoe, saw major developments and shifts towards agriculture, then to suburban development. The Garrison Creek quickly became developed with industries, residences, breweries, abattoirs, and market gardens; dozens of bridges were built over the ravine (City of Toronto n.d) (Harstone 2005). 2. Community structure The Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood was once dominated by an older, immigrant population, however in recent years, there’s been a predominant shift towards a “working aged” (age 25-64) population and more generally, a gentrification of the neighbourhood. The community has managed to maintain much greenspace in the form of parks, parkettes and playgrounds, and there exists many committed community-based groups who endeavor to improve these greenspaces for both the social and ecological value. 3. Urban Forest Enhancement The Ministry of the Environment recommends a minimum of 30% canopy cover. The City of Toronto was surveyed as having approximately 17-20% total canopy cover (City of Toronto 2005). Parks, Forestry & Recreation has recommended the city canopy cover reach a minimum of 30-40% in a 50 year time span. Although, it is not required that Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood meet Toronto’s goal of 30-40%, the current average canopy cover is 7.7% (Parks, Forestry & Recreation p89) 6. City of Toronto Policies Several by-laws within the City of Toronto Municipal Code and other City policies apply to the management of the urban forest within the Trinity Bellwoods area. Applicable policies and bylaws include: Street Tree By-Law (Article II of Chapter 813), Private Tree By-Law (Article III of Chapter 813), Infested Tree By-Law (Article I of Chapter 813), Parks By-Law, and The Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees. These policies outline the regulations for maintaining, improving, and managing trees and public park areas. They also define the actions that are prohibited and liable to fines. 7. Pest Management in Urban Forests Trees in urban areas are often stressed by pollution, constrained root space, and mechanical damage and are therefore, more prone to attack by insects, fungi, and other pathogens. Issues resulting from pests either through stress, new introductions, or other issues related to climate change can be mitigated through proper care of trees, removal of undesirable plants, and


other actions, including tree injections or removal of certain hosts, as in the case of ash trees affected by the emerald ash borer. 8. Tree Establishment and Planting The planting guidelines should follow the 10:20:30 rule. This rule follows the idea that no more than 10% of the trees planted in the urban forest should be of the same species, no more than 20% of the same genera, and less than 30% of the same family. Appropriate ecological placement is crucial for the survival and longevity of urban trees. Choosing appropriate sites for tree planting should include an analysis of limiting factors to tree growth. Species for plantings will be chosen based on a site’s given habitat selection criteria and suitability. Preference for native species will be given. Heritage Trees There exists 5 trees within community boundaries that have been nominated for heritage tree recognition, however none have been officially recognized. Given the deep rooted history of the Trinity Bellwoods area, the establishment of heritage trees will serve as an excellent reminder of the past, as well as an important educational tool for present and future use. 10. Community Education and outreach Engagement of community members, organizations, schools, and businesses will be a crucial component for increasing awareness of the urban forest values and to further promote action. Specific projects like adopt-a-tree, community greening, and backyard tree programs are recommended to support the enhancement of the urban forest through active community involvement. 11. Inventory, management and re-assessment Currently, the tree inventory for the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood is limited to Trinity Bellwoods park and the TDSB grounds. Establishing a complete inventory will, therefore, be a primary goal to better direct future management. The inventory should include information, such as species, size, diameter at breast height, crown length, crown width, tree condition, and location, and furthermore, should be periodically reassessed as a key factor for adaptive management. 12. Year 1 operating plan In the first year that the plan is implemented, the focus will be on completing a comprehensive tree inventory, increasing awareness, and engaging community stakeholders. Moving forward, these activities and resulting inventory will be used to inform subsequent annual operating plans and each 5 year plan through the process of adaptive management. Possible future management practices depending on the outcome of the inventory will be outlined. 9.


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