Citizen Pruner Program

That’s right. It’s the dead of winter and I’m still writing about trees.

Our city and our urban forest is geographically unique compared to most others in North America. We’re right in the middle of one of the biggest forests in the world. We are the polar forest opposite of our prairie companions like Winnipeg and Saskatoon.

For some, our proximity to limitless trees makes the need for a forest within our urban core miniscule. For most, we enjoy the forest around us and we’d like that canopy cover to merge seamlessly throughout our city streets.

And there, in my opinion, lies the root of a general lack of focus and investment in our street trees and backyard trees over the last several decades. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of many “tree lovers” throughout our city, minds are changing and our populace is beginning to clearly see and understand the value of our street trees.

Our city’s government has done a fantastic job lately of nurturing and developing programs to enhance and protect our urban forest. They’ve enacted a tree protection bylaw and begun a cost sharing program that has drastically increased the number of new trees planted.

Collectively, as stewards of our city’s trees, we all have a long way to go. There still exists a general understanding that a tree is planted and then it’s removed when it gets too old or when it falls over on a windy day. Coaxing a tree along into graceful old age takes frequent attention by skilled and knowledgeable people.

The newest, and best so far, program to help grow a stronger urban forest is the Citizen Pruner Program. With two seasons under its belt, the program has produced over thirty volunteers, that through training and experience, are pruning the youngest of municipal trees to give them a better head start in life. Throughout the year they get together and prune away branches in young boulevard trees to encourage stronger growth and to reduce the chances of limb failures years down the road.

Not only are the Citizen Pruners positively changing our street trees, they have become a group of people who better understand the value of our trees and the attention and resources that it takes to grow them well.

There is still room to register for the program in 2012. You can find instructions on how to do so in The Key. Even if you don’t get involved, the fact that you’ve waded this deep into my article tells me you may be eager enough to speak up for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. Yup, that was a Dr. Seuss quote.