An urban forestry and environment researcher at the University of British Columbia is to share her findings and speak to the importance of mature trees at a South Surrey event later this month.
Lorien Nesbitt is to be the feature speaker at the Ocean Park Beautification Committee’s ‘Value of Mature Trees and Community Health’ event, scheduled to take place Sept. 7, at 7 p.m., in the Ocean Park Community Hall (1577 128 St.).
Nesbitt told Peace Arch News over the phone last week that she plans to touch on the health and social benefits of trees, and of particular interest to her, the benefits of “greenness exposure.”
“Usually the focus is trees, and those can be street trees, backyard trees or trees in parks,” Nesbitt said when asked to describe greenness exposure. “There’s also some evidence that having spaces that are somewhat natural is beneficial.”
Nesbitt said there can be a positive psychological benefit that comes with being able to “look out your window and see something green, like even grass or shrubs or a nice garden.”
“Sometimes, our community gardens are really important for our neighbourhood.”
One focus of the upcoming event is mature trees.
Nesbitt said there has been some recent research conducted by the U.S. Forest Service that suggests that mature trees start to pay back their investment after 35-50 years.
“We’re starting to quantify shading, reducing temperature, improving air quality, reducing flooding. Big trees are a lot better than small trees, but of course, trees cost money to grow,” she said.
In her research, Nesbitt has investigated Surrey, and how it manages urban forestry.
“Surrey is actually considered a leader in British Columbia, and even in Canada, in terms of the resources that goes into managing city trees and in some of the policies that govern trees on private property,” she said.
Surrey is also, she noted, one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the province, which also comes with its own set of challenges.
One of which is balancing urban forestry with the requirement of land to service the increasing population.
“I know that as a city, it’s something that Surrey struggles with. Trying to make sure that trees are maintained to provide all of the benefits…” she said. “But then also making sure that there’s space for the community to grow.”
Nesbitt said there seems to be more public awareness, in recent years, on the importance of urban trees.
“When I first started in urban forestry over a decade ago, a lot of people appreciated urban trees but they didn’t pay attention to them… they took them for granted,” she said.
She said she encourages questions from the audience at the event, as one of her objectives is to learn what’s important to the residents – with respect to urban trees – in the South Surrey area.