There are 22,205 trees lining the streets of Fredericton. You can trust that number, because forestry students at the University of New Brunswick visited each and every one.
Over the past two years, the graduating UNB forestry classes spent months in the field assembling a street tree inventory before devising a street tree management plan for the City of Fredericton.
The plan assessed the asset value of the trees, along with the resilience to damage, susceptibility to insect and disease, and the general health of the population, said Jasen Golding, the instructor who supervised the project.
“We want to help the city promote a more resilient and valuable forest over the next 25 years,” he said.
“Trees are important in Fredericton. We are known for the beauty of our tree canopy, but what I don’t think people realize is that our street trees are also municipal assets just like rinks, pools or playground equipment,” said Coun. Greg Ericson, Chair of the City’s Public Safety & Environment Committee. “The management plan is an important tool in maintaining our street trees into the future and helping to keep Fredericton green.”
The inventory analysis found 96 per cent of street trees on the northside were healthy, compared to 89 per cent on the southside. The most common street tree genus in the city is maple, coming in at 45 per cent of the population.
Sixteen students from the class of 2015 and 17 from the class of 2016 surveyed the street trees on the southside and northside, respectively. Both groups spent months on the streets of Fredericton, recording the general health conditions of every city-owned tree. The plan does not include park trees or trees on private land.
The plan is now in the hands of the city, which has already begun implementing some of UNB’s recommendations. “We identified trees for safety and hazard, and they’re removing them as we’ve identified them,” Mr. Golding said.
The plan used a modelling program to forecast how the population could change over time, taking into account elements like potential insects such as the emerald ash borer. Mr. Golding said it could have a major impact on ash trees in New Brunswick.
Senior forestry student Kyle Buckley, who was involved in the project, said studying urban trees versus a rural forest provided interesting results.
“The lifespans of urban trees are typically shorter than those of their rural counterparts,” he said. “There are different stressors, such as salt damage, the potential for different insects, and restricted rooting space, so often there’s more damage during storms, such as post-tropical storm Arthur.”
While street tree management plans are becoming more common for cities in Canada and beyond, Fredericton’s is unique.
“Fredericton now has a 100-per-cent street tree inventory, which is unheard of. It’s not a very big city relative to Toronto, but we have a world-class inventory a lot of places would love to have,” Mr. Golding said.