TREED: WALKING IN CANADA’S URBAN FORESTS > “My message is … pay attention to the trees. Realize you’re living alongside these amazing old beings. But also … let’s maybe work more to protect them,” says author Ariel Gordon

Note to Reader:

Ariel Gordon is the author of Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests, published in May 2019. With intimacy and humour award-winning poet Ariel Gordon walks the reader through the streets of Winnipeg and into the urban forest that is, to her, the city’s heart. Along the way she shares the lives of these urban trees. 

After grounding the reader in native elms and ashes, Gordon travels to BC’s northern Rockies, to Banff National Park and a cattle farm in rural Manitoba, and helps us to consider what we expect of nature. Whether it is the effects of climate change on the urban forest or foraging in the city, Dutch elm disease in the trees or squirrels in the living room, Gordon delves into our relationships with the natural world with heart and style. In the end, the essays circle back to the forest, where the weather is always better and where the reader can see how to remake even the trees that are lost.

Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forest

Studies have shown that access to green space around people’s homes results in lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as reduced loneliness and an increased sense of community,” wrote Ariel Gordon. “But how do we cope when the urban forest, the place we go for respite, is threatened?

“For me, everything that isn’t asphalt and concrete is part of the urban forest and helps us survive the city. So that’s boulevard trees. That’s apartment planters and full-on gardens, greenhouses and cemeteries. That’s anything that sustains, that provides comfort or supports life.”

Ecological Grief

In her article, Ariel Gordon introduces the notion of Ecological Grief, defined as: “The grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses, including the loss of species, ecosystems and meaningful landscapes due to acute or chronic environmental change.”

Ariel Gordon also quotes Erna Buffie, director of the award-winning Nature of Things documentary Smarty Plants: Uncovering the Secret World of Plant Behaviour –

“If there was ever a time for us to take action, a time to plant trees on every square foot of land available — public and private — it’s now,” she says. “We need to harness our grief and act to expand and protect a new, more biodiverse urban forest. And we need to demand that our governments allocate sufficient funds to get it done.”

To Learn More:

Read the article titled Picking Up the Pieces by Ariel Gordon, published in the Winnipeg Free Press in October 2019. Click here to download a PDF version of the article.

Read “For Me, Everything That Isn’t Asphalt and Concrete is Part of the Urban Forest”, an excerpt from Treed by Ariel Gordon. Click here to download a PDF version of the article.