March article: Victoria’s Urban Forest

April 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm | In FOCUS_Magazine, urbanism, victoria, writing | Comments Off on March article: Victoria’s Urban Forest

It has been up on Scribd for a while, but I haven’t yet given this article a more detailed blog post: Victoria’s Urban Forest, published in FOCUS Magazine last month (March 2009).

My description:

Urban forests are more than just trees in cities: they are the complete ecosystem, including the trees and understory shrubbery and plants, soil conditions, water drainage, and wildlife. Victoria has urban forests in its core neighborhoods, but needs to do more to enrich ecosystems within downtown.

This one was a pleasure to write, and was inspired by two workshops at the City of Victoria last January (see PDF press release). At the workshops, Jeremy Gye (of Gye and Associates Urban Forestry Consultants), Dan Marzocco (Supervisor of Arboriculture at the City of Victoria), and others presented detailed information on what the current state of the city’s “urban forest” system is, and how we can think about improving and enhancing it. (See also this PDF, Factsheet: Trees for the Future: Victoria’s Urban Forest Master Plan, as well as the City of Victoria’s webpage, Urban Forest Master Plan.)

The workshop exercise again illuminated the problems around municipal / local government amalgamation. Why? Because the data presented was of course only for the City of Victoria (that’s one municipality embedded in the Greater Victoria region, which in turn is embedded in the Capital Regional District [CRD], which in turn is not what you think because you forgot about the Census Metropolitan Area [CMA]… Note: interesting PDF on revised population statistics for the CRD and the CMA, and here’s a PDF map of what’s the CMA and what’s the CRD outside the CMA [remember that everything within the CMA is also part of the CRD anyway – but now we’re getting away from forests, urban or otherwise!).

Anyway, in this article I had the opportunity to reference Jonah Lehrer‘s recent Boston Globe article, How the city hurts your brain …And what you can do about it, which received a lot of play on the blogs and was even Slashdotted.

What the comments routinely missed was the last part of Lehrer’s extended title, “…And what you can do about it.” As usual, too many folks were jumping up and down that cities are hateful and country living is good, disregarding all the environmental benefits of city living (and the harmful ecological impacts of sprawling far and wide across countrysides). Most of all, they missed that cities are engines of innovation, and that – as per the “…And what you can do about it” teaser – it’s quite possible to design cities so that your brain is rewarded.

That’s definitely the direction I’m interested in moving in.

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