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'Right tree, right place': The work Winnipeg is doing to restore its tree canopy

The City of Winnipeg’s annual push to restore its tree canopy is underway.

On Friday afternoon, city crews planted trees along Langside Street’s boulevard.

"Most of the trees that were cut down along this block were cut down due to Dutch elm disease," city forester Martha Barwinsky told CTV News.

There are approximately three million trees city-wide, however, Barwinsky said around 8,000 are lost each year due to disease, age, and other debilitating factors.

"So we are replacing those trees because we know we need to maintain a tree canopy on our residential boulevards,” Barwinsky explained.

The tree planting program started at the beginning of May and is expected to run through October.

“We are planting over 5,000 trees this year which is probably the most we’ve planted in a long time in many years."

She credits a city budget boost for the hike.

$3.6 million in the 2023 budget was earmarked for Winnipeg's tree canopy, which brings the total investment to $26.3 million - $4.7 million more than last year.

“We were also able to increase the number of trees we’re planting due to some funding through Tree Canada through the Million Tree Challenge, and also through a federal grant through the Two Billion Trees Program as well.“

Barwinsky said the city’s goal is to replace every tree felled with another planted in its place.

 "As of last year and this year, we’re looking at an approximately 80 per cent replacement rate."

The head of Trees Winnipeg, a non-profit organization focused on planting, care, and biodiversity, thinks the city is heading in the right direction.

“The city is doing a lot to try to replant those trees,” Christian Cassidy, Trees Winnipeg’s executive director, told CTV News. "It’s not quite able to catch up, but they’ve had a big increase in their tree planting budget this year. That’s good news.”

Cassidy said there has been a groundswell of support to help preserve Winnipeg’s tree population.

"I think it’s only been in recent years where boulevard trees have started coming down that suddenly people have realized, ‘wait a second, trees do make up a big part of the city landscape’."

However, Cassidy said the onus isn’t only on the city.

“For residents, the top thing is plant a tree. Find a place in your yard, and do a little research or contact an arborist,” Cassidy said.

He suggests following an expression commonly used in the tree community.

"Right tree, right place – a lot of people fall in love with a particular type of tree and that’s what they want to plant in their yard, but it’s not always the right tree.”

He said climate, soil type, growing conditions, and tree size should all be considered for a tree’s best chance long-term survival.

Trees Winnipeg is hosting an "Arbor Day" celebration on June 3 at Crescent Drive Park. The event includes free activities for kids, as well as planting and tree care workshops. Top Stories


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