British Columbia Urban Forest Research Project brings ‘tree canopy science’ to rainwater management
Commencing in 2005, collaboration between researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Greater Vancouver region’s three North Shore municipalities — North Vancouver District, North Vancouver City, and the District of West Vancouver — has opened the door to a long-term partnership to bring science into the community via the Urban Forest Research Project.
The project results are showcased on a website that will be maintained by UBC. To access the site, please click here.
The website provides a complete inventory of the 60 tree canopy climate stations installed across the North Shore. In addition, a location map pinpoints each station. The project results will be used to populate the Tree Canopy Module in the Water Balance Model.
The Role of Trees
According to Dr. Markus Weiler, the lead researcher and the (former) Chair of Forest Hydrology at UBC, “Trees play an important role in retaining water on site, either permanently or temporarily to slow the flow into waterways. Rainfall is, intercepted by a combination of plant components, leaves, branches, and trunks. It could also fall directly through the canopy to the forest floor. Intercepted water is stored in the short term on leaf and bark surfaces, and eventually flows down the stem and trunk to the ground, or evaporates.”
“Tree canopy interception accounts for storing precipitation temporary in the canopy and releasing it slowly to the ground and back to the atmosphere. This interception may account for up to 35% of gross annual precipitation, and plays an important role in water balance equation. The objective of this research will be to explore the variables influencing the interception process and hence quantify rainfall interception by trees within an urban environment”, added Dr. Weiler.
According to Dr. Dan Moore, the purpose of the Urban Forest Research Project is to provide planners, developers and municipal engineers with the tools and research they need to approach rainwater management in a more integrated and sustainable manner. Dr. Moore is a Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, and thesis supervisor for the research work undertaken by Yeganeh Asadian.
According to Richard Boase (District of North Vancouver), the leader of the North Shore Inter-Municipal Coordinating Team, “Having a stand-alone project website will provide us with an enhanced capability to draw attention to the Tree Canopy Interception Research that is underway. In particular, the project partners envision two-traffic between the UBC website and the Rainwater Management Community-of-Interest on the Water Bucket website. A link on the Waterbucket will send users to the UBC site where they will then find links to all the project-related stories posted on the Water Bucket.”
The project partnership also includes the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the Province of British Columbia, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the Inter-Governmental Partnership that developed the Water Balance Model for British Columbia, and the Canadian Water Network.
“Provincial grant programs no longer support the traditional ‘pipes and pavement’ approach to drainage planning. The focus of the Ministry of Community Services is on programs that reduce rainwater runoff volume at the site level, by capturing rain where it falls. Because the Tree Canopy Research Project will advance the rainwater management state-of-the-art in British Columbia, the Ministry is pleased to play its part as a project funder,” reported Glen Brown, Director of Infrastructure and Engineering for the Ministry of Community Services.