Our urban forest is a natural asset that provides immense benefits to the community. It will become even more important as the impacts of climate change increase.
Urban Forestry Planning has been identified in the Town’s Five-Year Financial Plan as a three-year project.
One of the first steps in Gibsons’ Urban Forestry management was the development of a Tree Preservation bylaw which was adopted on September 18, 2020.
An Urban Forest is defined in the bylaw as “the trees, forests, greenspace and related abiotic, biotic and cultural components located within the Town”. This means that Gibsons’ Urban Forest encompasses every tree within Town boundaries, not just the larger tracts of forest such as White Tower Park, Charman Lands, Gospel Rock conservation area and the Gibsons Creek Ravine.
An overarching “Urban Forest Plan” will act as the asset management plan for this natural asset. Accordingly, it will:
- Provide a complete tree inventory, which will determine the percentage of tree canopy in the Town and enable Council to establish a target tree density;
- Develop a Tree Management Plan to enhance work efficiency;
- Provide a guiding document, which will change our response to tree-related issues from a reactive position to a proactive position;
- Help quantify benefits of our natural assets, including trees and forests, and address the role that trees play in a natural asset system;
- Provide data to inform establishing a municipal Urban Forest; and
- Improve community relations.
In Q1 2021, LiDAR (a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the Earth) data for the Gibsons Aquifer watershed was acquired. This data includes an Urban Forest Canopy layer, which will be instrumental in determining the current percentage of tree canopy in the Town and then establishing a Tree Density Target.
Long-term plans for the Charman Creek Lands and Arrowhead Park will be informed by data collected under the umbrella of the Source to Sea project, which is currently underway.