Fight climate change — plant a tree this spring
As spring rolls around, we should all do our part in reducing our carbon footprint. One great way to do this is by offsetting carbon emissions, which can be done by planting more trees.
Trees are considered carbon negative, which means they remove more carbon from our atmosphere than they release. What’s more, trees also improve air quality, help control floods, increase property value, create wildlife habitat and increase the natural beauty of our city.
Trees provide so many services for us, but they are constantly being threatened by pests, diseases, severe weather and development. This is another reason why we need to do our part in increasing the variety and number of native trees in Hamilton. The City of Hamilton has created an “urban forest strategy,” a long-term plan to increase greenery, canopy cover and the health of our city trees. Another great program run by the City of Hamilton is the Street Tree Planting Program. If you’re interested in helping the environment by planting a tree on your property, the city will provide a tree free-of-charge.
Homeowners in Hamilton can request trees for free from the city, which are then planted in the city-owned sector of your property. According to the program guidelines, you can request one tree per standard lot, and three for corner lots. Additionally, there are up to 40 species of native and non-native trees to pick from, which can increase the diversity of tree species in Hamilton. Once you have read the guidelines, all you have to do is phone-in or submit a request online.
If you’ve already planted your tree and are interested in helping even more with increasing the number and diversity of trees in Hamilton, there are a few charities that aim to improve green space in the city that you can get involved with.
These charities, with the help of many selfless volunteers, plant native trees and shrubs in areas that need a greenery boost. According to Environment Canada, a minimum of 30 per cent tree cover is recommended for maintenance of ecosystem health. Unfortunately, Hamilton only has 19 per cent tree cover. Trees for Hamilton aims to reach the goal of 30 per cent and beyond. In 2021 alone, they participated in 12 plantings around the city, in areas such as McMaster University and the Binbrook Conservation area. Also in 2021, Trees Please and their volunteers participated in collecting data on trees and air quality, free tree giveaways, providing 1,300-plus free native trees and shrubs for Hamiltonians as well as hosted community events like workshops to promote knowledge on our trees.
Trees for Hamilton is a registered charity, and Trees Please is part of the Environment Hamilton organization.
Rachel Lin is a fifth-year undergraduate biology student at McMaster University, currently studying conservation biology.