Saskatoon

Arborial advocate urges Saskatoon to show the love on National Tree Day

On the eve of National Tree Day, an advocate is urging people to raise their gaze above the streets and sidewalks of Saskatoon and give thanks for the canopy overhead.

City's urban forest faces challenges

With National Tree Day coming Wednesday, an advocate is asking everyone to be more aware of the value of the urban forest. (CBC)

On the eve of National Tree Day, an advocate is urging people to raise their gaze above the streets and sidewalks of Saskatoon and give thanks for the canopy overhead. 

I think people want trees in their city.- Mike Rosen

"People love trees. There are more and more tree huggers around all of the time," said Mike Rosen in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

Rosen is with the non-profit Tree Canada.

"I think people want trees in their city but the irony is that our cover, our canopy cover in our major cities in Canada is actually declining."

The decline, he said, is due to factors including hot weather, violent storms fuelled by climate change, invasive insects and construction.

Mature ash along 20th Street in Saskatoon's Riversdale neighbourhood are being cut down due to the Cottony ash psyllid, a pest that first arrived in the city in 2006. (CBC)

Saskatoon's fight to save trees

In Saskatoon, the fight to save the urban forest is visible. One thousand trees have been removed to stop the spread of the Cottony ash psyllid, a tiny yellow-green pest that first arrived in 2006. More black and mancana ash trees, of which there are about 7,000 in the city, are showing clear signs that they will not survive.

City councillor Hillary Gough, who is a member of a committee looking for ways to protect the urban forest, said there are some vital questions to answer.

"We know that there is still a lot of work to do … we know that there is likely to 2,000 or 3,000 more trees that we will have to remove," she said.

There are more and more tree huggers around all the time.- Mike Rosen

According to Gough, the city will need a little more than $400,000 in 2019 to try finishing off the threat posed by the Cottony ash psyllid. She said there is also a call to begin seeding a $1-million fund with an annual contribution of $250,000.

More money needed

Rosen applauded the efforts to keep the urban forest healthy in Saskatoon and said other cities are also making progress.

"We are better now than we ever have been in the past. We have people with a lot of expertise in managing our trees now."

One area where Rosen would like to see change is in the way urban forest management is funded. He said that provincial, territorial and federal governments pay little attention to city trees, leaving local governments to fend for themselves.

Saskatoon's Sturdy Stone building downtown is shown here framed by trees. On National Tree Day, one expert is urging people to take the time to appreciate the beauty that the urban forest can bring to any city. (CBC)

- with files from Saskatoon Morning

About the Author

Danny Kerslake is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio stations across Western Canada. In his career with CBC Saskatchewan, Danny has reported from every corner of the province and has lived and worked in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. Danny is a newsreader and digital AP for CBC Saskatoon.