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Urban Forest Strategy

London's Urban Forest Strategy, published in 2014, will determine how we plant, maintain and protect our trees over a period of 20 years. It is the roadmap which will guide City staff, to help ensure we keep the forest in 'The Forest City'.

Cover of Urban Forest Strategy

Urban Forest Strategy

Click on the image for the Urban Forestry Strategy

 – Excerpts from the Executive Summary

The Urban Forest Strategy is a plan that engages citizens and outlines the necessary steps the City of London must take to protect, enhance, and monitor the urban forest that defines London as the “Forest City.” The urban forest refers to all trees within the municipal boundary, regardless of land use type or ownership. Trees in private yards, street boulevards, parks, woodlands, wetlands, ravines and fields are included in the urban forest.

The Strategy provides the vision and strategic direction for long-term education, planning, planting, protection and maintenance of trees, woodlands, green space and related resources in the City of London. 

The Strategy is intended to provide direction over a period of 20 years and be reviewed every five years.

The Strategy is meant to elevate the importance of the urban forest in London to enhance its reputation as a place where people want to live, work and play, and create an environment that is resilient to change.

The Implementation Plan is a companion document to the City of London Urban Forest Strategy (B.A. Blackwell and Associates Ltd. 2014). The purpose of Strategy is to set the vision and strategic direction, including required actions, for managing London’s urban forest. The purpose of the Implementation Plan is to set out how the actions identified in the Strategy will be carried out and the resources required to do so within departments.


Implementation Plan cover

Implementation Plan

Click on the image for the Implementation Plan

- Excerpts from the Overview

Implementation of the Strategy requires a serious commitment to both human and financial resources if the goals and targets are to be met. Additionally, the Plan will require a commitment from all City departments to consider the urban forest as a unique and valuable asset that requires a higher level of priority in City programs than in the past. Fully implementing the Plan will also require participation from citizens, private organizations, and other public agencies.

To achieve success, the focus of short term implementation work must be aimed at stabilizing and rebuilding the recent loss of canopy cover through enhancement of forest health and protection of the existing tree inventory from both human development and environmental disturbance (insects, disease and catastrophic weather events). This can only be achieved with strong support for canopy cover targets and stronger protection, through by-law and enforcement, of the existing canopy. Policies that incent developers to incorporate more trees into new developments are important elements. A key emphasis is on raising the importance of the urban forest among City staff, businesses, institutions, and citizens so trees are recognized as a valuable infrastructure asset.

Over the medium and long term, the City must work diligently to expand its planting programs, and the associated maintenance. Effort should also be directed to restoring and managing natural areas which is more than just planting large numbers of trees, but more careful consideration of the species, shape, stature, and quality of planting stock. In addition to ensuring the right tree is selected for the site, it is critical that planting space is of sufficient volume and quality so healthy mature trees can grow. Proper planning is required to maximize success of City and community planting programs. This includes improving control of planting stock through multi-year growing contracts.

Fundamental to successful implementation of the strategy is taking an adaptive management approach based on a foundation of comprehensive and up-to-date inventory data and on-going research on tree performance for the range of species and growing conditions found in London.

On Sept 2/ 2014, City Council voted that the Urban Forestry Strategy and Implementation plan be Adopted and Amended to incorporate and achieve tree canopy targets of 28% by 2035 and 34% by 2065 subject to annual budget approval.