Leslieville-Riverdale Tree Project

First Year Update – March 2011

The Leslieville / Riverdale Tree Project supports neighbourhood level action to improve air quality and increase community adaptability to the effects of climate change. This initiative supports neighbours to improve the local tree canopy as a demonstrated means of achieving these goals. Community volunteers from diverse neighbourhoods in the catchment area are trained and supported to engage neighbours around tree planting and preservation at the local level.

“A healthy, wonderful new tree was planted at a house at the top of our street today. I was thrilled,” said a neighbour about these new community assets. As the first year of the Tree Project wraps up neighbours have added 193 front yard shade trees and close to 50 back yard trees to the community. At least another 100 trees will find long-term homes in the neighbourhood this season. These trees are stewarded until established, and give back by cooling the area in summer, providing shade and reducing energy consumption, diverting storm water from sewers, keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, and beautifying the area. The trees also provide habitat and food for migrating birds and local wildlife. As Daniel Laroque, a founding volunteer with the Tree Project remarks, “Would you rather have the squirrels in your roof? If not, then plant a tree!”

The Tree Project is a working alliance of two groups: Neighbourhoods Acting on Air Quality (part of South Riverdale Community Health Centre) supports community level action around air pollution and health, while Beautification of Leslieville District (BOLD) is a volunteer community education and advocacy group. The two initiatives were neighbours but hadn’t met until the regional Live Green Toronto Animator and the local councillor brought them together. The Leslieville / Riverdale Tree Project was born. It is just entering its second and final year – as a pilot project, the express aim is to turn a time-limited investment into lasting impact.

Implementable feedback will be provided to colleagues at Urban Forestry to inform improvements to the Toronto’s vital free tree program for residents in all regions of the city.

Thanks go to Toronto Atmospheric Fund, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Live Green Toronto for their financial support of this initiative.

Here are detailed statistics from our first year:

Neighbours talking with neighbours:

Community volunteers received training in “Trees 101”, urban forest stewardship, tree identification, general air quality and human/climate health issues, energy demand management, and social marketing.  Training was provided primarily in English, with two sessions in Cantonese.

Forty volunteers conducted outreach to 2,000 homes in South Riverdale and Leslieville. Volunteers helped their neighbours plant:

  • 193 front yard shade trees (free to residents)
  • 48 back / side yard trees (subsidized through LEAF – www.yourleaf.org )
Of these trees, 26 were planted on land-lord owned properties. The trees benefit the entire community, regardless of home-ownership or income.

Community members also learned about ways to reduce hydro consumption and through the project 67 “Peaksaver” air conditioning conservation devices were installed for free. This is a great way to save money while staying cool this summer.

Impact of the 200+ trees planted this year:

Through the Tree Project, a variety of species of trees were planted in our community. Tree species vary in their environmental impacts and as trees grow their positive impacts increase dramatically.  To provide a good estimate of the impacts of the Tree Project, the following calculations are base on 100 Freeman Maples and 100 Hackberries, combined. Calculations were provided by www.treebenefits.com/calculator Assuming a 4” diameter (in about 5 years), the 200 trees will have the following combined impact

EACH YEAR:

  • Reduce energy needed for cooling buildings by 4,800 kilowatt hours
  • Divert 182,000 liters of storm water from our overburdened sewers
  • Keep 27,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

In about 15-20 years, assuming a 20” diameter, the 200 trees will have the following combined impact EACH YEAR:

  • Reduce energy needed for cooling buildings by 26,100 kilowatt hours
  • Divert 1,920,000 liters of storm water from our overburdened sewers
  • oKeep 152,700 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
These impact figures will increase as another 100 shade trees are added in Year 2 of the Project.

Year 2 – Next Steps

The Tree Project is a 2-year initiative. There are two ways to get involved:

1) Request your FREE front yard tree. Replace our ailing tree canopy, keep our community beautiful and help the environment. Email [email protected] to get started.

2) Volunteer 10 hours this spring to help neighbours get a free tree. Make a lasting difference in ourbcommunity. Neighbours talking with neighbours has an impact! Join the ½ day training session on Saturday, April 30th. Registration in advance is required – contact [email protected] or 416-461-1925 x 268 to book a spot.

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