Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve an overall guidance plan to help with the ongoing realities of Urban Forest Management in the city.
Based on a recommendation from the May 6 meeting of the Civic Works Standing Policy Committee, the guiding principles, Strategic Goals, Objectives and recommended priorities contained in the 2021-2041 Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMB) will now start to be implemented.
The UFMD was developed to help the City respond to the many challenges facing the urban forest today and in the future – challenges such as difficult growing conditions, the need for better tree protection, pests, diseases, invasive species, limited community engagement and climate change. The strategies and actions outlined in this plan will ensure that the important services provided by Lethbridge's urban forest are sustained and enhanced over time.
Implementation of this plan in the near term can be accomplished with existing financial resources.
"The urban forest is a major part of Lethbridge's green infrastructure," says Parks Manager David Ellis. "The city's trees provide valuable economic, health and community and environmental services that help make Lethbridge a healthy, livable and attractive community."
The City manages an inventory of approximately 47,000 trees along streets, in parks and on other City-owned lands, along with many more trees in the Oldman River valley. Outside of the river valley, the climate and environmental conditions do not support any native trees. The fact that all trees in the developed area of the City are planted and would not survive without proper management contributes to the importance of dedicated resources, strategies and policies to preserve and enhance this green infrastructure.
The urban forest is a unique type of infrastructure in that, unlike other municipal assets, its value increases as it ages – older and larger trees provide exponentially more services to communities than smaller trees because they have more leaf area. This fact highlights the importance of planning for and supporting the growth of large-statured and long-lived trees across Lethbridge.