We Need an Urban Forest Plan

Updated: Mar 14

Fredericton does not have an Urban Forest Plan (UFP).

A UFP is BOTH an overall vision AND the concrete objectives and action steps developed from wide public and expert consultation that guide a city’s decisions, such as where to put that culvert, how to mitigate flooding, whether to prioritize the 400-year-old hemlocks or disk golf at Odell Park, and what percentage of land a commercial development is required to put aside for green space.

TreeCanada defines a UFP as guiding “the sustained planning, planting, protection, maintenance, management and care of trees, forests, greenspace along with related resources in and around cities as well as communities for economic, environmental, social, and public health benefits for people.”

UFP’s are popular with city staff because they make their jobs easier. Decisions are based on The Plan, therefore avoiding the friction that has come to define Fredericton’s relationship with its citizens on these matters. But more importantly, a UFP elevates the whole conversation. Because, after all, nature doesn’t know about property line markers, and with a healthy chunk of NB tree species slated for extreme difficulties, plus historic droughts and floods becoming our new climate normal, we really ARE “all in this together.”

Cities that have UFP’s in place are busy planting native species in traffic circles to hold down the soil and mandating new apartment buildings to save green space because it keeps people cool in summer, warm in winter, and healthy all year long. They are supplementing precious staff time by working with community groups to PLANT along riversides and backyards and to educate about what NOT to cut. UFP’s go bigger than pest control by protecting heritage trees and endangered species, working in particular to conserve old trees on public and private land—trees that are the workhorses of carbon reduction and climate protection that we will never be able to replace in new climate conditions.

Fredericton does not have a UFP. Yet.

At Trees Matter Fredericton, we have asked the City to collaborate on launching the kind of community consultation that results in a good, solid, proactive plan. The good thing about being late to the party is—just like London, ON and Nelson, BC and Halifax, NS—this late in the game, we do not need to reinvent the rules. Good UFP’s do not come from an engineering department or a multiple-choice questionnaire. Fredericton is blessed with incredible citizen interest and the expertise from both a college AND a university that have dedicated urban forest programs. We are ready to “Talk Urban Forest”!

Fredericton has a lot of work in front of us. But it’s so exciting to think about what’s possible! In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting the good things that have flowed when cities like ours started on an Urban Forest Plan process. And of course we invite you to continue to enjoy the February-to-April education series featuring local experts passionate about conserving, protecting, restoring, and innovating—all things Fredericton urban forest.

In the meantime, we could use your help! We need volunteers and funding to help get the urban forest on the municipal election agenda, plan an upcoming symposium, develop the TMF website, and work on other diverse projects. The more people on board, the more we can do. Send a message to the TMF Facebook page or email TreesMatterFredericton@gmail.com if you’ve got some time or $’s to spare.

Learn. Love. Protect. Connect!

Kathryn Downton, Executive Director

Trees Matter Fredericton

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