The group behind Arbor Day has named St. Albert as a world champion of urban forestry for the second year in a row.
The City of St. Albert announced March 17 that it had been declared a Tree City of the World by the Arbor Day Foundation for a second consecutive year.
City senior public works manager and forestry guru Louise Stewart said the city got the news earlier this month. St. Albert got the award last year, too, but didn’t have a chance to celebrate it as everyone was too busy with the pandemic.
Run by the Arbor Day Foundation and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the Tree Cities of the World program recognizes cities and towns committed to ensuring their urban forests and trees are properly maintained, sustainably managed, and duly celebrated, and aims to help cities share best practices for forest management, the program’s website said. Candidates must have a designated manager for their urban forest, set rules and policies (with penalties) for tree care, maintain a tree inventory, create a budget for tree management, and hold an annual tree celebration.
St. Albert has a tree inventory, an annual tree planting program, an Urban Forest Management Plan, many dedicated foresters, and annual events celebrating trees, such as Arbor Day and RiverFest.
St. Albert was one of just two Alberta cities to get this award this year (the other was Edmonton) and one of 15 in Canada, Stewart said.
While the award itself is mostly about bragging rights, it is still quite prestigious, Stewart said. She thanked the many generations that came before her for planting the seeds of St. Albert’s modern-day commitment to trees.
“It’s their decisions they made 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago that led us to be able to celebrate this.”
Stewart said St. Albert is just about ready to release its tree inventory study, which so far has counted about 65,000 trees within city limits. She noted the pandemic had put the city’s tree-planting program back by about two years (600 trees), which could create an age gap in the city’s canopy and interfere with its goal to achieve 20 per cent tree cover by 2037.
City crews planted last year’s Arbor Day trees on behalf of students as the event was cancelled due to the pandemic, Stewart continued. This year’s Arbor Day would be online, with students getting trees to plant at home. Crews planned to ship some 2,500 trees to schools – twice the usual amount, so students who missed last year’s event would also get a tree to plant.
Stewart said the city plans to apply for this award again next year.
Visit treecitiesoftheworld.org for details.