Across the country in 60 days: Reflections of the Canadian Urban Forest Network Workshops

CUFN (2)My work with Tree Canada over the years has undoubtedly been an educational and industrious experience. My current portfolio involves directing the Canadian Urban Forest Network (CUFN), Strategy (CUFS) andConference (CUFC). This past autumn, we had the opportunity to coordinate five regional workshops for the Canadian Urban Forest Network, with the generous support of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. The five regions in which we held the workshops are: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, and Pacific.

The main goal of the workshops was to bring together stakeholders in urban forestry in each region to review (and in some cases introduce) the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy, and to discuss how the Strategy applies to stakeholders, and to collaborate in advancing the objectives and tasks outlined.

After an overview of the national context, participants broke out into facilitated discussion groups. Each group represented one of four topic areas to identify the roles that each of the five Working Groups in the Strategy plays in advancing these topic areas. The four topics were: planning (e.g. development, inventory), establishing (e.g. planting), retaining (e.g. tree protection, by-laws, policies, conservation), and managing (day to day operations).

Each workshop drew a collection of dedicated and motivated individuals. Participants included representation from different levels of government, environmental and community groups, educational and research institutions, private tree companies and nurseries, arborists, landscape architects, consultants, urban foresters, planners and students. All brought with them diverse perspectives.

Results of the workshops will help guide our national steering committee in revising our Canadian Urban Forest Strategy to continue to build our institutional infrastructure and framework for urban forestry in Canada. Some preliminary examples of participant feedback for each of the working groups includes:

  • Building stronger, long-lasting collaborations with the federal government to produce principles and guidelines for urban forestry (National Infrastructure);
  • Identifying clear and concise messages to key audiences and by sharing successes and failures across regions (Communications and Public Education);
  • Coordinate collaboration between academic/research institutions and organizations/communities and among public/private sectors to examine research needs (Research);
  • Promoting cost-effective technologies that a majority of communities may afford and developing and making available regionally-specific Best Management Practices (Techniques and Technology); and
  • Providing consistent training for urban forestry and arboricultural professionals and working towards national standards and trade certifications (Professional Development).

Overall, the CUFN workshops provided a productive opportunity for networking with urban forest colleagues from across each region. For those relatively new to the field of urban forestry, it was a significant opportunity to meet, share information and ideas, and enhance the network. Our goal is to ensure that participant voices are heard in our process as we review and revise the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy in the next iteration.

The outcome of these workshops will be presented in a final report, coupled with a Spring 2016 Webinar! In addition, results and progress will be reviewed at the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy Meeting at our next Canadian Urban Forest Conference in Laval, Quebec, September 26 – 29, 2016.

More to come!

Do you want to get involved?

For more information, please visit: www.cufn.ca.