IRIS event marks the release of report on York’s forests

What is the value we ascribe to trees and urban forests? Are they merely things that stand in the way of development and urban sprawl or do they have value?

These questions and more will be the subject of a special lecture today hosted by the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS). The lecture, which will take place from 1:30 to 3pm in 280 York Lanes, features a number of speakers who will address the value of urban forests. It also marks the release of a report by IRIS researchers on the value of the Keele campus urban forest.

Above: A Google map of the Keele campus. The circles indicate surveyed plots within buildings and squares indicate plots within park-style land. For each plot, IRIS researchers recorded the location of the plot, its global positioning coordinates and the actual land use. They estimate that the Keele campus has 97,575 trees.

Participating in the lecture are Lionel Normand, a terrestrial biologist with the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Meaghan Eastwood, an urban forestry technician with the TRCA, and IRIS Senior Fellow Cecilia Tagliavia. The event will be chaired by IRIS director and York biology Professor Dawn Bazely.

Right: Dawn Bazely

Normand and Eastwood will discuss TRCA’s current urban forest study project. Their presentation will offer an in-depth look at the project’s intentions, partnerships and collaborations, study methodology, findings and recommendations, and more. The TRCA manages a number of urban forest studies within the Greater Toronto Area and works in partnership with municipalities and other conservation authorities.

Tagliavia has been examining the urban forest canopies on York’s Keele campus, both in existing blocks of natural forests (woodlots) and in man-made urban forests (gardens, recreational areas and parklands). By adapting the Urban Forest Effect model (UFORE) to the smaller campus scale, Tagliavia and her research team were able to estimate the role of York’s forest in carbon sequestration and removing greenhouse gas pollutants.

Her study highlights the importance of preserving the forest in park lands, including woodlots, which contain more than six times the number of trees compared to building areas. The full results and an accompanying analysis have been captured in the IRIS report titled, The Value of Keele Campus Urban Forest, which will be officially launched at the lecture.  

This event is free and all are welcome. For more information, visit the IRIS Web site.