Parksville launches survey to inform urban forest strategy

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The City of Parksville is asking for public feedback to help shape the development of an urban forest strategy, a document which will help create a long-term vision and goals for the management and growth of the city’s urban forest.

The strategy, to be developed with consultant Diamond Head, is necessary to preserve acceptable canopy coverage and meet forest health targets, according to a media release from the city. 

A survey will be open until Oct. 22 and is accessible from the city’s public engagement platform, Let’s Talk Parksville.

Parksville’s urban forest includes all trees, vegetation and soil spanning parks, streets, existing forests and other ecosystems, agriculture lands and private property, according to the city.

The urban forest faces challenges from climate hazards, urbanization and declining forest health. The increase in the number of dying western red cedars throughout the city is a prime example of the impacts of warmer, drier summers affecting the health and species composition of the urban canopy. The city said its resources have been stretched to manage the volume of dead, dying and high-risk trees.

Trees are living assets that provide numerous benefits to the community, such as capturing rainwater, cleaning air, shading, and cooling streets and buildings, promoting economic growth by attracting tourism and reducing energy costs including heating and cooling. The urban forest also supports physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Parksville also needs to accommodate a growing population, which means new housing and infrastructure are being built in previously forested areas, according to the city. Rarely can individual or small groups of trees that grew up in a forest be retained when development occurs because they are vulnerable to winds once exposed. In these areas, the trees that are planted in new yards, parks and along streets will form the future forest canopy.

The urban forest strategy will provide direction for the city to address these challenges, while at the same time looking at opportunities to achieve the community’s vision for Parksville’s future urban forest, according to the release.

Completion of the strategy is targeted for March 2022, the city said.

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