Courtenay has some trees to replace.

Of the city’s 3,370 hectares of total land area, tree canopy cover is 33 percent.

That’s a significant decline from the 38 percent measured in 1996.

It also represents a net loss of 160 hectares of canopy over 22 years, or the equivalent of 204 Vanier Secondary turf fields.

Courtenay’s tree canopy is made up of natural forest and planted trees in streets, parks, and on private property.

The city’s Urban Forest Strategy notes that recent large-scale canopy change in Courtenay has been due to forest lands being developed into residential areas.

Meanwhile, the city’s urban forest includes all of the trees, vegetation, soils, and associated natural processes across the city.

Trees are the key piece of the urban forest; without them, the forest won’t exist.

The city plants 300 to 350 new trees each year.

The strategy was developed to expand parks, natural areas, and the greenway system.

The strategy’s planning horizon is 30 years, out to 2050, which reflects the time it takes for the urban forest to grow.

Among the goals:

  • Prioritizing protection of significant trees and forest stands on both public and private land;
  • Review the Tree Bylaw to consider possible amendments that enhance tree protection;
  • Increase and improve the quantity of new tree planting; and
  • Work together with K’ómoks First Nation and community groups to steward the city’s urban forest