Trees provide many important benefits, including cooling our streets in the summer, reducing rainwater runoff and air pollution, improving mental and physical health, and beautifying our city. But Winnipeg’s urban forest faces significant challenges from insects and disease, climate change, urban development, and resource strains.
While American elm and ash represent 26 percent and 33 percent of the public trees, respectively, both are under siege due to Dutch Elm Disease and the Emerald Ash Borer. The City’s capacity to maintain the urban forest is also challenged as resources struggle to keep pace with demand for disease management, urban development, tree removals, maintenance, and replanting. These combined challenges threaten the urban forest’s capacity to provide beneficial ecosystem services like climate control, improved air quality, rainwater interception, and habitat connectivity – key components of our city’s resilience amid climate change.
In response to a report on additional resources required for Dutch elm disease management (September 2017), ongoing preparation for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and the discovery of EAB in November 2017, on December 12, 2017, Council approved the Urban Forest Enhancement Capital Project which supports the creation of the Winnipeg Urban Forest Strategy.
The Winnipeg Urban Forest Strategy project is an opportunity to establish a long-term vision for Winnipeg’s urban forest, and to develop clear guidance and measurable outcomes for the funding and levels of service required to sustain an ecosystem that responds to current and future challenges.