The Urban Forest: Planning for Climate Change in Delta, British Columbia


The Corporation of Delta is a leader in bringing the best professional arborists and urban foresters together to enhance urban forestry in a vital environmental community.

The municipality’s urban reforestation strategy will be one of three Corporation of Delta projects that will be featured as part of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Greater Vancouver Region: The 2007 Series. On September 21, Delta wil be hosting the first of three events the comprise the series. For the complete story on the Delta program, please click here.


Creating a Legacy

5Delta_gateway “We need to leave a sustainable legacy in light of the 2010 Olympics, and that legacy needs to include planting thousands of trees.”  Ken Kuntz, Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture for Delta. With the guidance of Nancy McLean, Landscape Coordinator/Senior Planner, Delta has set a goal to plant 20,100 trees by the year 2010. The presentation at Showcasing Innovation  will outline the guiding principles behind the planting program by addressing these four questions:

  • How has the municipality acquired new trees to achieve its goals?
  • How can other organizations follow Delta’s lead in education for staff, professionals, and the community?
  • How does Delta select trees to mitigate pollution and climate change?
  • And how can you inspire your community to engage in donation and volunteer programs to support your Urban Forest?

Ms McLean, MBCSLA, MCIP, ASLA, and Delta’s Urban Forestry Foreman, Frank Van Manen, ISA, will answer these questions and present the planning and implementation strategies that led to Delta’s successful Urban Forestry Program.


Broad-based Support

Most of the planting projects have involved community and agency support, volunteers, and donations from local businesses. The work of Nicole Stefanelli and her Urban Impact Recycling company will be reviewed, and the leap from plan to action (planting 500 trees in a Tsawwassen park and another 3,000 trees along a major highway) will be examined.

Delta’s development bylaws support planting trees that will provide the greatest environmental benefits by mitigating rainwater runoff, reducing pollution, and reducing the urban heat island effect. “Large trees are vital to the urban landscape,” recommends Frank Van Manen. Where there are no overhead restrictions, every effort should be made to plant trees that will attain a large size at maturity.”

Delta’s urban trees are a success story because of political and community support. Everyone has taken an interest. “These community projects are successful on several levels,” explains Nancy McLean. “It’s very rewarding to see businesses and residents caring about their neighbourhoods and actively taking part in improving the local ecology. As well as the obvious learning that comes with such projects, the kids involved, in particular, take away the message that they have the ability to change their environment for the better.”

6Delta-tree planting


It’s all about the soil

“Soil volume is becoming a key issue as the climate changes,” notes Frank Van Manen.  “The trees that become most stressed and challenged to survive will be those growing in limited supplies of quality growing medium.” 

Van Manen stresses that no-one should be cost-cutting, at the soil level, when it comes to providing for new landscapes and boulevards.  “This is truly where the greatest challenge will appear”, explains Van Manen, “Extending the life of new and existing landscapes will depend on whether or not they have an optimum mineral soil volume in which to develop and mature.  The ability of a soil to absorb and retain moisture for optimum plant growth will become paramount to determining landscape success.  Only then can we reasonably say we have been successful in providing real, and meaningful, carbon sinks.”


Posted August 2007