Community groups host tree survey

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This article was published 24/09/2021 (330 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The groan of chainsaws felling diseased trees outside Erin Keating’s Wolseley home inspired her to join forces with residents in the city’s central neighbourhoods to come up with a plan to support the tree canopy.  

Wrapping her head around Winnipeg’s tree care system wasn’t easy, Keating said. However, six months of researching different tree organizations and city tree care procedures led her to believe that the best first step is to conduct a community survey.

“I think this is a big opportunity to bring the community together in a positive way,” she said.  

Photo by Katlyn Streilein Wolseley resident Erin Keating and a group of community leaders from the West Broadway, South Valour and North Valour neighbourhoods are hosting an online tree survey from now until Sun., Oct. 31. Keating and her collaborators will use the data to form strategic tree care plans.

Public outreach would uncover the links between an individual community and its trees: what do residents know about tree care, where do the gaps in knowledge lie, where do people value trees the most, what benefits do the trees provide?

“It’s very different to say we want to save the trees we have or replant on boulevards, or do we want to expand having more trees or do we want to focus on native species,” she said.

The survey will run until Sun., Oct. 31, and is available through the Wolseley Residents’ Association website at www.wrawpg.ca

The heads of the community groups in the Wolseley, West Broadway, and North and South Valour neighbourhoods are facilitating the survey. Anyone who lives, works, and plays in those areas is encouraged to give feedback.

“A big part of this is to grow our group of supporters and our volunteer base. We want to have tree captains for each of the streets, so that we have eyes out there to know what’s going on,” Keating said. “We’re all seeing the Dutch elm disease and the ash borer — it’s just taking down our canopies.”

Keating credits Hugh Penwarden for helping to guide the effort. An experienced local naturalist, Penwarden helped restore native prairie trees and habitat in Wildwood Park following an extensive community consultation process.

Tracing Penwarden’s steps, once the survey wraps up, volunteers will organize the data by neighbourhood. After that, the group will strategize and reach out to the different organizations and municipal departments responsible for specific trees. For example, Vimy Ridge Memorial Park’s trees are under the jurisdiction of the city’s urban forestry branch.  

“They all have different roles, but it’s hard to figure out who does what,” she said.

Setting a focused goal for each of the four neighbourhoods and its subregions will be vital, the 43-year-old director of corporate sustainability told The Metro.

West Broadway resident Monique Olivier connected with Keating while looking to join an on-the-ground tree protection group. The two agreed to include Olivier’s neighbourhood in the survey.

“There’s going to be some significant gaps in the canopy in upcoming years, so we just want to get ahead of the curve,” Olivier said.

Keating plans to create a resource guide outlining Winnipeg’s tree organizations, departments, and resources to help save others time when embarking on their tree care mission.

Most Winnipeg’s trees are growing on private property. Keating believes coordinating tree care efforts on a neighbourhood level and supporting tree education would go a long way.

While she’s mourning the loss of the giant elm and ash trees, Keating has come to terms with the fact that the city must usher in a new, more diverse and resilient generation of trees — and she’s ready to help make it happen.

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at katlyn.streilein@canstarnews.com

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