Investigating our urban forests
Montreal has long kept a public tree inventory, but with many of the city's trees located on private land it has been difficult to paint a full picture of how they contribute to the urban ecology.
Carly Ziter, an assistant professor of biology, and her team of researchers have been working to address these gaps. With the NDG Tree Project, they’ve been engaging directly with citizens in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood to catalogue trees on private land.
Ziter’s lead master's student on the project, Kayleigh Hutt-Taylor, says the project has been successful at helping residents to better understand their local ecology.
“We wanted citizens to go out in their backyards, explore their own urban nature and help us get a better idea of what the urban forest in Montreal actually looks like,” she says.
In an odd twist, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have led to more community involvement than was originally planned.
“Initially we were going to be knocking on doors and doing tree surveys in backyards ourselves,” says Hutt-Taylor.
“But with the pandemic, that's changed to a community-science approach where we show residents how to gather the data and they send it to us. It’s really important to know how trees are benefiting the community and what better way to do that than involving the residents themselves.”