The value of trees in our landscape
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When I tour out-of-town buyers around neighbourhoods in our town, invariably they will comment on the trees in the landscape.
The mature areas of Oakville have some pretty impressive trees that are over 100 years old. Can we put a dollar value to those mature trees, particularly as they might relate to property values? Not in a scientific way. But it is interesting to note that often the mature neighbourhoods where trees dominate the landscape are the more expensive parts of town to live. West Galt, Rosedale, Old Oakville, Roseland, just to name a few.
The Town of Oakville has set some ambitious goals for our urban forest. The urban forest is made up of all the trees growing in the Town, including town-owned street and park trees, trees in forested areas, as well as trees on private property. Right now, our town's tree canopy is at 29%. In south-east Oakville, the tree canopy is measured at between 40 and 48% depending on where you are standing. The town's goal is to achieve 40% tree cover in all areas of town by 2027. Unfortunately, the current emerald ash borer problem is going to knock the plans off somewhat. About 300 ash trees will be removed in the Morrison area alone in the next 5 years. I know. I had to remove one from my front yard just a few weeks ago.
Oakville has long been considered a leader in its management of its urban forest. In 2007, the Canadian Forestry Association named Oakville the Forest Capital of Canada. The Town spends both time and effort to care and plan for the 138,000 street and park trees. A tree bylaw was put in place to try to protect the trees that are on private land. The Town's short and long-term goals for our urban forest have been established for the next 20 years. These are detailed in the 2008 Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan (available on the town's website).
There is certainly value in our trees. Trees are an important part of our urban landscape as they help to moderate climate, they improve air quality, they help us to conserve water, they provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife. And they absolutely increase the value of your property.
Nancy Robertson is a realtor with Sotheby's International Realty Canada in Oakville. Nancy is also a master gardener and landscape designer. Nancy also loves trees.