Growing our canopy
The NCC this week came out with a report (shorter version in this CBC news story) measuring the extent of the tree canopy in the National Capital region. Overall, we’re doing alright, with 46% canopy cover. That’s good, right?
Canopy cover is the percentage of ground covered in shade when the sun is directly above the trees. The report explains how the data was gathered, which is fascinating to people who tend to be fascinated by this sort of thing.
Me, I look at the differences between neighbourhoods. It’s great that we have lots of trees in certain areas, but it would be a lot better if most of the areas where people live had decent coverage. My own ward, Knoxdale-Merivale, isn’t looking shady enough, with only 25% cover. This affects me on a daily basis, as trees help absorb air and noise pollution, cool temperatures, and help biodiversity. Oh, they’ve also been shown to improve our health and psychological well-being. The more mature trees, the better. Always.
Unfortunately we’ve made a habit around here of allowing developers to get a huge chunk of land out in the distant suburbs, clear it of every living thing, build a whole neighbourhood of houses, and sell them quickly to customers eager for large homes at prices they can only afford if they’re half an hour away from the centre of town. I don’t begrudge families looking for the kind of housing that suits their needs, but do we really have to ruin nature to accommodate them? Couldn’t there be other ways? (That’s a trick question; the answer is a big fat yes.)
Oh sure, developers plant trees after they’re done razing natural habitats and building shiny houses. Correction: They plant twigs. Obviously, because you can’t plant mature trees, so you plant little guys. That may or may not survive long enough to become actual trees, years or even decades from now.
It’s not good enough and as a first step we have to stop this awful practice. Trees aren’t just things in the way of progress. They’re necessary living things and we do better as human beings when we’re surrounded by them.