Write your city councillor now, they are set to vote in February 2014

Before and afterCity councillors will consider whether to proceed with public consultation on a newly drafted by-law designed to better protect our urban forests sometime in February 2014 (the official date for this vote has not yet been set).

Please contact your city councillor NOW to show your support for this new by-law. We need to do what we can to protect what remains of our urban forests, for so many very important reasons.

Read through this site to find more information and stories as to why we need to preserve these forests.

The newest by-law draft that will be before the committee in February 2014 can be found here:

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/0FE03D0E-692D-468A-A43B-D922C7592331/0/Dec0351PD02229d.pdf

Write to your councillor today. Following is a suggested draft:

To: City of Hamilton <councillor>

Re: Protecting Hamilton’s Urban Forests

I am a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, and I have great concern that our current regulations do not sufficiently protect the last remaining urban woodlots in the City of Hamilton.

The current Regional Woodlands by-law is ineffective and the existing tree protection by-laws in Ancaster, Stoney Creek and Dundas are not sufficient to protect important urban woodlands throughout much of the City of Hamilton.

I encourage you to support the proposed new “Woodland Conservation By-law for Private Property Within the Urban Area (City Wide)” and ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to guarantee that it can be implemented and enforced effectively.

Urban woodlands provide countless social and health benefits, and serve important ecological and economic functions and are thus a critical component of our ‘green infrastructure’. Hamilton is a great place to live and work, in part, because of our urban woodlands. Please take action now to protect these important assets.

Sincerely,
[Your name]
[Your address]

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Hamilton’s Urban Forest Needs Better Protection – by Giuliana Casimirri

Published February 28, 2014 at Raise the Hammer.

As Hamilton, Ontario continues to shake off its sooty industrial reputation and build an ambitious city, exciting initiatives around the city are giving life to palpable changes and real hope. However, creating coexistence with our ‘green infrastructure’ – the trees, urban green spaces, and woodlands within our city boundary – continues to be one of Hamilton’s greatest challenges.

On the urban woodland front in particular, we are definitely losing the battle, in large part because we haven’t even been putting up a fight.

This article highlights the benefits of our urban forest, some of the history of tree protection by-laws (and attempted by-laws!) in Hamilton and a new urban woodland by-law proposal, and describes Hamilton’s forest cover status today and some thoughts on how we might strive to enhance and expand our urban forest.

Hamiltonians should be proud of the provincially significant natural areas and geographical features that they have protected and continue to steward. The Dundas Valley, Cootes Paradise wetland, the expansive Royal Botanical Gardens properties, and the Niagara Escarpment are among some of the area’s greatest assets.

But when it comes to remnant urban woodlands located predominantly on private land, these last patches of forest in our increasingly developed matrix are getting smaller, farther apart and fewer in number.

[Read the FULL ARTICLE with photos  at raisethehammer.org...]

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Before and after of Crerar forest, comparing 2009 and 2013

Here is a comparison of Crerar forest as seen in 2009 and then again on December 30, 2013. They are taken from opposite angles, but you can see quite a difference in the sections that have been cut. Click the photo to see a higher resolution.

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Urban forest protection draft bylaw delayed again

By  Matthew Van Dongen

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A decade-long effort to better protect Hamilton’s urban forest has been put off again.

A draft bylaw to regulate cutting of “urban woodlands” was tabled Tuesday by the planning committee until next year.

The proposed new rules would require a permit to cut down trees in woodlots of half an acre or larger in the city, but not in rural areas. The bylaw differs from a tree-cutting bylaw for all private property that council shot down in 2009 after years of debate.

Click to read more at The Spectator…

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How ‘Forest Bathing’ Can Heal

And why BC would be wise to better manage its naturally rejuvenating woods.
By John Innes and Farah Shroff, TheTyee.ca

For hundreds of years, people in China, Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia have recognized that wood is not only a critical building material, but that forests provide a number of other benefits. Asian physicians have long recommended walking or being in nature as an important way for people to maintain their health and prevent disease. What does modern research tell us about getting healthier by being in the forest?

The World Health Organization considers health to be a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. This places responsibility for health on a wider range of institutions and people than simply the medical establishment.

A large and rapidly growing body of evidence suggests that people benefit in many ways from being exposed to trees and forests. This research…

Read More at The Tyee.ca…

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Hamilton’s Green Islands Under Threat

by Herman van Barneveld

A Northern Parula sings at the edge of the 3-acre woodlot while my students are measuring the diameter of some labeled Hop-hornbeams, Black Cherry trees, and towering, 150-year old Red Oak trees. The woodlot is called Crerar Forest, just south of the Linc between Wellington and Wentworth. It’s migration season, and a few more warbler species, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a Solitary Vireo join the parula. They seem happy to have found a rare island of green in the midst of an ocean of roofs, streets, and parking lots.

My students love to be out in the bush. It not only breaks the monotony of sitting and listening, but they also feel they are involved in useful information gathering and interpretation as they measure trees which their predecessors measured last year. In this way they gather information about the current growth rates of various species. They really appreciate the opportunity.

I interrupt some students in their work to show them the two young hawks peeking out from the top of the nest which a Red-tailed Hawk pair had fashioned high up in a Sugar Maple. The students’ ‘Cools’ and ‘Wows’ remind me why I took them into the forest in the first place. They beckon other students to come and check it out.

That was last year.

Continue reading

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Federal Government looking for comments on the Sustainable Development Strategy

Public Consultation on the Draft Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016

The Sustainable Development Office at Environment Canada is looking for input from Canadians on the draft second cycle of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), covering the period 2013 to 2016. Canadians are encouraged to submit comments before June 14, 2013, on the government’s advancement of sustainable development initiatives.

The government wants to benefit from the broadest possible range of expertise and guidance as it continues in its effort to make environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

Read more: http://www.ec.gc.ca/dd-sd/default.asp?lang=En&n=F7780ED7

Note: Protecting our forests is a big part of this, it has an effect on many things. Make sure your voice is heard.

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BBC: Green spaces boosts wellbeing of urban dwellers – study

Parks, gardens and green space in urban areas can improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living there, says a University of Exeter study.

Using data from 5,000 UK households over 17 years, researchers found that living in a greener area had a significant positive effect.

The findings could help to inform urban planners and have an impact on society at large, they said.

Read full story at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22214070

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New Research: Parks Alleviate Brain Fatigue

urbanmooon:

Natural environments, nature itself, is very important for our health.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

benefits
What many landscape architects and designers know intuitively is increasingly becoming proven scientifically. In fact, more and more exciting research appears showing the cognitive and mental health benefits of being out in nature — in places like parks, or even just meandering down leafy streets. According to The New York Times, a new study from Scotland shows that “brain fatigue” can be eased by simply walking a half-mile through a park.

In The New York Times’ Well blog, Gretchen Reynolds writes that “scientists have known for some time that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living, sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue.”

Green spaces help alleviate brain fatigue because they are “calming” and require “less of our so-called directed mental attention than busy, urban streets…

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City needs more trees, less asphalt

Too much asphalt, not enough trees or wetlands.

The latest watershed report card for Hamilton shows we have a lot of work to do to improve the environmental health of our urban areas.

The report from the Hamilton Conservation Authority evaluates forest cover, water quality, wetlands, stream buffers and barriers to water filtration.

Read full article by Matthew Van Dongen at:
http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/917775–city-needs-more-trees-less-asphalt

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