Port Moody’s new Urban Forest Management Strategy, adopted by Council in September 2023, articulates a 30-year vision and goals for the management of our urban forest. The Strategy will help us preserve and maximize the benefits that trees provide as well as respond to the impacts of climate change and urban growth and development. Work on the Strategy began in 2022 and included two phases of public engagement to collect input on residents’ values and priorities. 

Vision and goals 

The Urban Forest Management Strategy sets out a community vision – Port Moody’s abundant, safe, and resilient urban forest supports the health and well-being of our community and the exceptional environment in which we live – and five goals to support the vision:

  1. Plan and adapt to sustain the future of the urban forest.
  2. Plant the right trees in the right places to maximize benefits.
  3. Manage trees and forests to maintain public safety and forest health.
  4. Protect trees and planting spaces to maintain a treed and forested character.
  5. Partner broadly to implement the Urban Forest Management Strategy. 
Learn more about the goals

The goals in the Urban Forest Management Strategy are high-level statements that present the orientation of Port Moody’s urban forest program. Read more about the goals.

Plan and adapt to sustain the future of the urban forest
Planning and adapting the urban forest involves setting a clear and defensible goal for urban forest canopy cover, integrating implementation of the strategy across departments, monitoring progress and ensuring that resources are sufficient to implement the strategy.

Plant the right trees in the right places to maximize benefits and maintain a treed character
To achieve the canopy cover target, the City will need new partnerships and adaptive technologies like soil cells
or structural soils to create growing spaces. Improvements in planting environments and tree quality will also be needed to ensure that tree health and life expectancy will maximize benefits over time.

Manage trees and forests to maintain public safety and forest health
Urban forest management aims to maximize benefits and minimize risk, which requires proactive tree care, and effective processes for responding to emergencies and calls for service. Tree planting is just the beginning of the process, and ongoing investment is needed to maintain trees and forests throughout their lives.

Protect trees and planting spaces to support a treed and forested character
Protecting Port Moody’s trees means keeping more large, mature trees in the landscape, or keeping the planting space for them in the future. Trees take decades to grow to maturity, at which point they provide the most benefits to our community.

Partner broadly to implement the Urban Forest Management Strategy
To achieve its target, the municipality will need every community sector to contribute. Involving people in urban forest management also leads to multiple co-benefits from people working together, connecting with nature and becoming advocates for the natural environment.

Strategies 

Strategies go deeper, describing major objectives related to each goal. Actions are specific items that represent how Port Moody can go about strategy implementation. Here are the 15 strategies identified in the Urban Forest Management Strategy: 

  1. Integrate urban forest management strategy implementation with other initiatives to achieve co-benefits
  2. Monitor progress to see if the strategy is working and adapt as necessary
  3. Ensure resources are sufficient to sustain urban forest management
  4. Improve tree planting environments to support tree survival and health
  5. Plant trees to enhance ecosystems and maintain stable and equitable tree canopy over time
  6. Improve the quality and suitability of trees being planted for the site and climate requirements
  7. Manage risks to the urban forest and the public
  8. Improve maintenance standards to meet target levels of service and manage risks
  9. Improve climate resilience in urban forest management
  10. Review and update the Tree Protection Bylaw with input from the community
  11. Develop new policy tools and approaches to improve protection of trees and soil
  12. Develop frameworks to support decision-making about tree protection and removal
  13. Build relationships and opportunities for reconciliation with First Nations Governments and Indigenous peoples through urban forest management
  14. Broaden community partnerships to implement the Urban Forest Management Strategy
  15. Build connections between people and the natural environment to foster stewardship

Canopy cover target 

To monitor implementation results, the Strategy includes the following canopy cover targets: the City will work to maintain a canopy cover of 59 percent city-wide, and to increase the canopy cover in urban areas outside parks to 31 percent (from 28 percent). Canopy cover refers to the amount of ground that is covered by the foliage of trees when looking from above the trees to the ground below. 

Establishing a canopy cover target provides a clear and measurable goal for Port Moody to strive towards. It helps to connect the vision to a canopy cover outcome and establishes a metric to drive the implementation of the Urban Forest Management Strategy. Canopy cover is not the only metric that will be used to track implementation progress, but it is the metric most often tracked to show if the urban forest is growing, declining or stable. 

Benefits of trees 

Our urban forest includes all trees, and their associated ecosystems, in all parts of the city: protected parkland, streets and boulevards, residential yards, commercial and industrial areas, the waterfront, and natural areas within Port Moody’s municipal boundaries. 

Why do trees matter? The urban forest has a big impact on our quality of life.

Benefits

Benefits are provided at multiple scales, from individual trees to native forest stands, and throughout the urban forest as a whole. Many of the ecosystem services urban forests provide are related to the size and health of trees. For example, large, healthy trees provide more shade or filter more pollutants from air and water. Similarly, a large, healthy forest is better at cooling the air through evapotranspiration or providing good habitat for native biodiversity.  Some of these benefits are described in more detail below.

Healthy people and communities
Trees and forests have positive effects on people’s mental and physical health. The urban forest contains  opportunities for exercise and quiet contemplation. Exposure to greenery has been found to lower stress levels, improve work performance, and even shorten hospital recovery times2,3,4. Having a nearby park or natural area has been shown to increase the likelihood of people achieving recommended levels of physical activity.

Financial value
The urban forest stimulates the local economy. Visitors come to Port Moody to experience its forested natural areas, spending money on the way at local businesses. Trees in urban settings help local shops outperform less green commercial districts by encouraging people to stay longer and spend more6. A high cover of trees has raised neighbourhood property values in studies from Finland to Florida.

A sense of place
In Port Moody trees and forests are such a common sight that they capture the imagination and merge with people’s vision of the city. Forests and trees offer individuals and communities layers of meaning that contribute to cultural benefits like strong civic identity and pride.

Clean air and water
Trees and forests capture rain and stormwater runoff, which is filtered by roots and surrounding soils in the ground11,12. Some of this water resurfaces in streams, lakes, wetlands, and ponds – or at the end of a spigot or hose. The urban forest cleans the air by taking in pollutants like carbon monoxide, road particulates, and nitrogen dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Climate resilience
Climate change in Port Moody has brought hotter, drier summers; warmer winters; and more intense rainfall – trends expected to continue. The urban forest breathes in carbon dioxide and sequesters carbon in wood, plant tissues, and soils, helping to limit global climate change15,16. At the local level, trees and forests do much more to help us adapt to climate change impacts. Evapotranspiration, or the process of trees losing water through their leaves, cools the surrounding air. Summer shade keeps streets, sidewalks, and buildings comfortable17. Urban areas with minimal vegetation experience temperatures several degrees warmer than areas with over 40% canopy cover.

Habitat and biodiversity
Our urban forest is a reserve of biodiversity. Trees, in life and in death, are the habitat used by many more plants, animals, fungi, and microbes. Intact forests with complex habitats support an even greater variety of life, including wide-ranging salmon, eagles, and bears. High biodiversity safeguards the ecosystem services that make human life in the city possible like the cycling of nutrients and pollination of gardens. Animal residents of the urban forest also benefit from many of the same ecosystem services humans value, like clean water and forest foods.

Reconciliation
Native forest ecosystems have special meanings for Coast Salish people, who access medicines, support fisheries, operate businesses, and continue cultural practices in healthy forests. Coast Salish oral histories and archaeological findings show a history of forest stewardship that continues today.