Vijaya Taylor plants a Western Red Cedar in a wooded border of Victoria. (John Taylor photo)

Trees Matter Network pushes planting on National Tree Day

Urban trees a key public health issue

Trees sprout in more places than usual today to celebrate National Tree Day in Canada.

A new local group called Community Trees Matter Network announces its first annual “Will you plant a tree?” campaign Sept. 26. The group encourages everyone to plant at least one tree this fall.

“Last month, the smoky air from wildfires affected people’s health in our region,” says David Muncaster, a member of the group. “More trees would do a better job of cleaning the air, as well as adding more oxygen.”

RELATED: Saanich plants 60 trees to celebrate 60 years

Urban trees perform vital eco-services for the community, and we need them more than ever, Muncaster says, yet we are losing trees at a rapid rate. Many trees in the region are dying of thirst, due to the changing climate that has brought long summer droughts and hotter, dryer weather. On top of that, as our population grows, ever more mature trees are cut down to make room for development.

“Our tree-planting campaign celebrates the incredible gifts and ecological services trees give us. We all take these services for granted,” Muncaster says. “Many people are not even aware of them.”

Trees mitigate global warming by storing carbon dioxide; produce oxygen, and also help to clean the air; filter groundwater, help prevent flooding, and help retain moisture in the ground. They also cool the air in several ways – by providing shade, and through transpiration of moisture from the leaves. Tall trees also create a cooling airflow.

“Victoria had only 18 per cent canopy cover in 2012, according to the last land cover mapping performed by Habitat Acquisition Fund. Many cities, such as Vancouver and Seattle, have a goal of reaching 30 or even 40 per cent. Doubling our tree cover would have an enormous benefit for our community,” Muncaster says.

“Our group believes urban trees are an important issue for public health. They are a living part of the city’s infrastructure whose true value and contribution is vastly under-recognized. For our own sake, we must understand and use this knowledge.”

For more information about the group and the tree-planting campaign email

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