Urban Forest Studies and Management

Plans and studies identifying the main opportunities and challenges of urban forestry.

Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan

The 2020 Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan (UFSMP) consolidates two forestry management plans for North and South Oakville into one Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan. The Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan:

  • Reviews the status of urban forest.
  • Assesses progress against recommendations of previous urban forest studies.
  • Provides strategic direction and further recommendations to achieve 40 per cent urban forest canopy cover target by 2057 as well as a sustainable and healthy urban forest.

Within the plan, tree canopy cover targets are set for each land use type in Oakville. The 2020 UFSMP highlights the importance of increasing canopy cover on private land in achieving the town’s overall canopy cover target. This includes increasing canopy cover on residential properties south of Dundas Street, in woodlands and natural heritage systems.

Monitoring data shows that the town is on track toward meeting its canopy cover goal of 40 per cent by 2057. Increasing tree canopy cover in the coming years will become more challenging as urban density increases and we face the effects of climate change.

Strategic priorities

Six strategic priorities for sustainable urban forest management are also identified in the plan, including: 

  • Forest protection,
  • Tree planting and establishment,
  • Forest health and resilience,
  • Risk management,
  • Communications and outreach, and
  • Adaptive management.

In total, 24 recommendations for priority areas are presented in the plan. Recommendations address the main challenges and opportunities currently being faced by the town in sustaining and expanding the urban forest. 

2020 Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan

Past Urban Forest Strategic Management Plans

Oakville’s Planning and Development Council approved the innovative North Oakville Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan on May 22, 2012. The plan ensures a sustainable and healthy urban forest for the lands located north of Dundas Street. 

The plan impacts overall planning for residential, commercial and industrial lands. It recommends a strategy that connects urban forestry best practices to existing environmental features in Oakville’s Natural Heritage System. 

Under the plan, trees are identified as green infrastructure. Their location and suitability will be determined at the start of the planning process. 

Development applications must provide detailed locations and soil volume of all trees in composite utility plans. This information is required to ensure tree placement receives equal consideration as the placement of other services, such as water or gas utilities.

The plan calls for establishing partnerships with community and environmental groups and other public agencies, government and the private sector to encourage participation in this planning and preservation initiative.

2012 North Oakville Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan

In 2008, the town's Forestry Section, Parks and Open Space Department delivered the Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan (UFSMP, 2008-2027). The plan identifies the main opportunities and challenges of urban forestry, provides criteria and indicators to assess the success of existing forestry programs, and provides recommendations and action plans for the town south of Dundas Street. It also provides recommendations to reach a 40 per cent canopy cover target by the year 2057. 

2008 Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan

Growing Livability 2016 Report

Despite ice storms, urban development and the impact of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Oakville increased its tree canopy by 1.3 per cent between 2005 and 2015. The findings, outlined in the 2016 report, Growing Livability - A Comprehensive Study of Oakville's Urban Forest (pdf), are a result of an i-Tree survey conducted for the town in 2015 to measure Oakville’s tree canopy and compare it to a 2005 study. 

The study examined changes in environmental quality and community livability over the preceding decade. It also quantified the benefits the trees provide converting those benefits to their economic value.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Oakville’s urban forest canopy cover in 2015: 27.8 per cent (up from 26.5 per cent in 2005)
  • Total number of trees: 2,016,500 (up from 1.9 million in 2005)
  • The structural value of Oakville's urban forest is $1.04 billion
  • Oakville’s tree canopy is estimated to provide $2.93 million in environmental benefits each year
  • The total value of home energy savings provided by Oakville’s trees is approximately $1.8 million per year
  • Oakville’s urban forest removed 113 tonnes of pollutants and 7,586 tonnes of carbon dioxide from Oakville's air in 2015
  • Oakville’s top three species by leaf area are Sugar maple, Norway maple and Northern red oak

The results of the 2015 survey are available in the Growing Livability report.