Have you ever noticed how many trees there are in this city?
Have you ever stopped to examine the visual relationship between trees and architecture, the patterns of leafless branches superimposed on straight man-made lines?
For the past couple of weeks I have been keeping an eye open for such relationships while I walk. As it turns out, there are lots to be found…. and some are even interesting 🙂
Just for fun I googled “How many trees are there in Toronto?”. I got answers! One link was particularly useful: available in pdf from the City of Toronto’s website is a report titled, “Every Tree Counts: A Portrait of Toronto’s Urban Forest” (updated in 2013). It is estimated that Toronto has about 10.2 million trees and they provides a tree canopy over between 26% and 28% of the city.
There are at least 116 different tree species in the city. The 10 most common species account for close to 58% of the total. We have a lot of maple trees – Norway Maple, Sugar Maple, and Manitoba Maple were the top 3 species. Next in the list were Green Ash, White Spruce, Silver Maple, American Elm, Eastern White Cedar, Austrian Pine, and White Ash.
When Dutch elm disease devastated the city’s elm trees in the 1960s and 1970s many were replaced by Norway maples. These proved to be hardy but they were also very invasive and damaging to ravines and other natural spaces. As a result they are rarely planted on city property anymore. Still, they represent 15% of Toronto’s tree coverage.
Of the total tree population, 6.1 million (60%) trees are on private property, 3.5 million (34%) trees are in parks and ravines, and 0.6 million (6%) trees are on city streets.
Trees make a significant contribution to our life. Not only do they look nice, but they also provide benefits. They provide shade in the summer and they help improve the air quality. They help prevent erosion in our ravines and they provide habitat for insects, birds and animals. Our parks would be poorer places without trees.
One goal that the city has is to increase the canopy cover over Toronto to 30%. To this end, between 2004 and 2012 the city and its partners planted almost 100,000 trees per year. That’s almost 900,000 trees. Not all survive but progress is being made. Tree cover increased slightly (1.3%) between 1999 and 2009.
below: A map of Toronto showing the tree canopy in each neighbourhood
Take a moment to look at the trees you pass, yes, look up! Especially in the next week while the branches are still bare. Better still, look up often and watch the changes unfold as the trees bud and bloom. At this time of year the trees change quickly and before you know it the city will be transformed.