trees, trees, and more trees

Posted: April 28, 2016 in nature
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever noticed how many trees there are in this city?
Have you ever stopped to examine the visual relationship between trees and architecture, the patterns of leafless branches superimposed on straight man-made lines?

Horizontal branches of a tree growing in front of a low rise yellowish brown brick apartment building. Balconies, jutting out with the bright blue sky behind.

For the past couple of weeks I have been keeping an eye open for such relationships while I walk.   As it turns out, there are lots to be found…. and some are even interesting  🙂

Part of a mature tree, looking upwards, the greenish steeple of St. Basils church can be seen through the branches. No leaves on the tree. A very tall condo building under construction is also in the picture.

Just for fun I googled “How many trees are there in Toronto?”.  I got answers!  One link was particularly useful:  available in pdf from the City of Toronto’s website is a report titled, “Every Tree Counts: A Portrait of Toronto’s Urban Forest” (updated in 2013).   It is estimated that Toronto has about 10.2 million trees and they provides a tree canopy over between 26% and 28% of the city.

A large mature tree with no leaves, early spring, grows in front of a large glass building that has a reflection of another large building its windows.

There are at least 116 different tree species in the city.  The 10 most common species account for close to 58% of the total.   We have a lot of maple trees – Norway Maple, Sugar Maple, and Manitoba Maple were the top 3 species.  Next in the list were Green Ash, White Spruce, Silver Maple, American Elm, Eastern White Cedar, Austrian Pine, and White Ash.

When Dutch elm disease devastated the city’s elm trees in the 1960s and 1970s many were replaced by Norway maples.  These proved to be hardy but they were also very invasive and damaging to ravines and other natural spaces.  As a result they are rarely planted on city property anymore.  Still, they represent 15% of Toronto’s tree coverage.

A lone smallish sized tree in winter is growing in front of a stone building on the University of Toronto campus, snow on the ground.

Of the total tree population, 6.1 million (60%) trees are on private property, 3.5 million (34%) trees are in parks and ravines, and 0.6 million (6%) trees are on city streets.

A tree in a concrete planter in front of a tral coloured building. It's a sunny day so there is a shadow of the tree on the building.

Trees make a significant contribution to our life.  Not only do they look nice, but they also provide benefits.  They provide shade in the summer and they help improve the air quality.  They help prevent erosion in our ravines and they provide habitat for insects, birds and animals.  Our parks would be poorer places without trees.

A large branch of a tree in the foreground, condos and the CN tower in the background. The curve of the tree branch looks like its wrapping itself around one of the tall condos.

One goal that the city has is to increase the canopy cover over Toronto to 30%.  To this end, between 2004 and 2012 the city and its partners planted almost 100,000 trees per year.   That’s almost 900,000 trees.   Not all survive but progress is being made.  Tree cover increased slightly (1.3%) between 1999 and 2009.

below: A map of Toronto showing the tree canopy in each neighbourhood

A map of Toronto showing the percentage of each neighbourhood covered by tree canopy from almost white (very few trees) to dark green (a lot of trees)

in winter, some snow, part of a large leafless tree in front of an office building with a sloght curve in it.

Take a moment to look at the trees you pass, yes, look up!  Especially in the next week while the branches are still bare.  Better still, look up often and watch the changes unfold as the trees bud and bloom.  At this time of year the trees change quickly and before you know it the city will be transformed.

winter tree in front of a stone government building on Queens Park Circle, A Canadian flag and an Ontario flag are flying in front of the building.

A number of leafless trees and three lamp posts in Simcoe Place, downtown Toronto, with the CBC building in the background

A man's legs as he walks across the pond on Ryerson campus. Very little water is therem lots of reflections of the trees and buildings around. He is wearing jeans and bright orange running shoes.

leafless tree branches above an older red brick house with a mansard black slate roof and a feww yellow brick details

  1. Bob Georgiou says:

    Great stuff. There’s a map out there that plots every (street) tree in Toronto. I’ll see if I can locate it again.

    • Mary C says:

      Thanks for mentioning the map! I did have one that I was going to use in the blog but I forgot about it. I’ve just found it and I’m about to add it to the blog post.

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