Pre-contact, over 65% of the Chatham-Kent area was heavy deciduous forest. The wetlands and grassland plains stretched from Baldoon & Raleigh town line westward. Due to the presence and importance of agriculture. it is understood that this original forest cover is not realistically achievable.
Chatham-Kent has arguably the highest amount of intensive agricultural areas in Ontario. The majority of these farms are in close proximity to Lakes Erie and St. Clair, and it is of utmost importance to maintain a healthy, sustainable balance of natural cover adjacent to these agricultural areas. The desired trend at a minimum is to maintain the 2015 reforestation levels to balance and mitigate agriculture runoff through the creation of buffer and forest catchment areas.
In Development: To date, the urban canopy coverage has not been tracked. In coordination with IES the intent is to calculate the present urban canopy coverage in early 2017. This calculation will provide a baseline to establish and confirm a desired trend.
What progress are we making?
Over the past five years, significant efforts have been made to address damage caused by the Emerald Ash Borer. We have developed a Natural Heritage Implementation Strategy to better identify and coordinate opportunities for tree planting.
Chatham-Kent's existing tree canopy cover is 3.4%. As a result, there remain many areas in Chatham-Kent where tree planting can be expanded to increase the tree canopy cover to achieve the community's desire for one million new trees.
Why is this measurement important?
A rich tree canopy provides a number of environmental sustainability benefits such as air pollution removal, carbon storage, air temperature control, flood mitigation, and noise reduction. As land use patterns continue to change from the impact of population growth, protecting and enhancing our urban and rural tree canopy is an integral part of creating a healthy, ecologically diverse and vibrant place.
How is this measured?
We assess our contribution to the urban tree canopy by measuring the number of trees planted through municipal-led initiatives and working with external partners, such as the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.