We recently returned from our first Grey to Green Conference in Toronto at Ryerson University, presented by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), where Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition‘s Report of the Urban Forest in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was released.
The Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition (GIO) is a collaborative alliance of not-for-profits organizations, community groups, businesses and local governments, including GIO steering committee member Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, working to sustain green infrastructure across Ontario. Their mission is to bring organizations together to share information and collaborate for improved green infrastructure policies and programs across the province.
“We’re thrilled to release this report, which represents the collective efforts of 17 local and regional governments. Together, they have established baseline data which will be critical to managing the urban forest into the future. Most importantly, they all used the same protocol, which allowed us to compile it into this GTA-wide report.” ~ Janet McKay, Chair of Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition
85% of trees in the GTA are small compared to only 40% in a healthy urban forest.
Summary of main findings:
- 34.2 million trees provide 26% canopy cover in the GTA;
- Replacement cost of these trees and shrubs is $14.2 billion;
- $70 million is the estimated value of the 2.7 million tons of carbon stored;
- $36.5 million is the estimate annual value of air quality improvements;
- $20 million is the estimated annual value of energy savings;
- 113,000 tons of carbon is removed every year – this is equivalent to the emissions of 23,000 passenger vehicles;
- 4,000 tons of pollution removed from the air annually (including 2,300 tons of ground level ozone);
- 10% of tree population is Ash (3.2 million trees). We have already lost a large number of them to EAB;
- 54% of trees are made up of four species (Maple, Cedar, Ash, and Buckthorn);
- 85% of trees are small (diameter less than 22.9 cm);
- 37% of trees are on residential property, 18% on commercial industrial, 25% on open space, agriculture and natural area, and 20% on institutional, transportation and other;
- The underlying studies were conducted between 2005 and 2014.
It’s an important landmark tool for folks committed to improving green infrastructure in the Ontario area, and certainly serves as a wonderful resource for the rest of us.
Getting back to the 4th Annual Grey to Green, in addition to seeing great presentations and panels on green infrastructure and climate change and visiting the Trade Show, we had a fantastic time and must give kudos to everyone at GRHC and their collaborators who put together another impressive conference!
We mingled with old friends and acquaintances such as the ever-lovely: Virginia Russell from the University of Cincinnati (and her lively mother!), Tracy Jackson from GRHC, Hamid Karimi with the DC Department of Energy and Environment, David Yocca of Conservation Design Forum, Kirtin Weeks of Arup, Sara Loveland and Ashleigh Uiska (whom we hadn’t seen in years because she has been in the UK having some beautiful babies!) of Annette Environmental, and of course Steven Peck and his better half, the wonderful Joyce McLean – among many, many, more. We also met some great new ones, too, including Kara Orr, the new Marketing Coordinator with GRHC and Chaoyue Zhao, GRHC’s Conference & Training Coordinator, whom we finally got to meet face to face.
Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of our living architecture colleagues at future green infrastructure conferences and catch up on what’s happening in your neck of the woods!
~ Happy reading,
Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEEP AP, GRP