July 15, 2015
In June, Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition sent Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne a letter urging her to support the province’s urban forests.

“All levels of government, non-profit organizations, community groups and businesses must play a role in protecting and growing Ontario’s urban forests. Coordination and collaboration is imperative, and for this reason, GIO has developed this Call to Action,” begins the letter.

Landscape Ontario is a member of the Coalition. “We collectively urge the province take a leadership role in developing a province-wide urban forest strategy and facilitating urban forest knowledge transfer.

The letter cites that Ontario’s urban forests are under threat. “An Emerald Ash Borer infestation is currently wreaking havoc across Southern Ontario; it will kill millions of ash trees from our backyards, streets and parks. Urban trees also face increasingly difficult growing conditions, including denser built urban areas and nutrient-deficient soils in land development.”

The Coalition says that provincial leadership is needed to help Ontario communities grow mature, diverse and healthy urban forests that can help address the extreme weather and urban heat issues associated with climate change.

The letter recommends that the province work with the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition (GIO) to develop an Ontario Urban Forestry Strategy. “This would include a consultation process with municipalities and other stakeholders that would seek consensus on priorities. GIO’s membership includes key urban forest stakeholders from across the province, and has already started the conversation through the development of Ontario’s Urban Forests: A Call to Action.”

The Coalition also urges the province to assign the file to a specific ministry to oversee implementation and provide further support for urban forestry. It also recommends the implementation of best management approaches to urban forest stewardship across the province by creating a central information hub, with a dedicated staff person.