Nfld. & Labrador

How do we improve forests in St. John's? Deputy mayor wants input from MUN

Sheilagh O'Leary wants to plant more trees in St. John's, and is looking to Memorial University for some guidance.

Partnership could spawn policies guided by professors and researchers

St. John's Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary wants to see more trees around the city, and thinks a partnership with Memorial University could help. (Maggie Burton/Twitter)

The City of St. John's is looking for new ways to improve the state of its greenery and is turning to Memorial University for guidance.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary told fellow councillors on Monday night that she'll be meeting with a professor from the university to discuss ways they can partner on issues involving urban forests.

O'Leary said the city has implemented policies on tree planting — such as one stating all new houses must have a tree planted on the property — but there's always ways to do more.

"I'm looking for answers. I'm looking for ways to improve our urban forests here in the city, but not just for beautification," she said. "More and more and more trees can actually really put a dent in climate change."

O'Leary wants to work with experts at MUN to foster growth of the city's forests. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

O'Leary said a similar partnership exists in Halifax, where the city implemented a forestry policy guided by several experts with the local universities. A similar collaboration could happen between the City of St. John's and MUN, she said.

It could dictate where the city plants new trees and how they decide what can and can't be cut down.

"Step 1 for me would certainly be planting more trees in areas that have been harvested for past development errors, in my opinion," she said.

O'Leary pointed to the clearing of areas like Southlands and Kenmount Terrace, where trees were cut down to make way for new subdivisions. The city's tree-planting policy is now seeing trees being planted back in the same areas.

"We have a couple of bald areas in the city, and I certainly think we need to be more aggressive about approaching how we can make sure we have stronger urban forestry in those areas."

O'Leary plans to meet with MUN geography professor Carissa Brown in the coming weeks to discuss it further.

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