Mathyssen Introduces Motion to Support Urban Forests

OTTAWA – Today, on National Tree Day, NDP MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) announced her Private Members’ Motion calling on the government to affirm its leadership role in urban forest knowledge, management and protection.

Urban forests positively impact 85% of Canadians, yet the federal government does not exercise formal management over urban forests”, said Mathyssen. “In the United States, management of urban forests falls under the responsibility of an individual equivalent to a Canadian deputy minister. We are significantly behind other G7 countries in the value we place on urban forests. We must preserve these forests before it’s too late.”

Urban forests are dynamic ecosystems that purify our air and water, help to control storm runoff, and conserve energy. Trees add form, structure, beauty, as well as recreational and breathing room in urban design. The motion complements the work of Tree Canada’s Canadian Urban Forest Strategy in calling for federal governance and oversight over urban forests.

“Urban forests are too important to be ignored” said Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada - Canada’s largest national tree NGO and Secretariat of the Canadian Urban Forest Network.  “We applaud the efforts of Ms. Mathyssen and urge all the political parties to support M-68, as well as the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy constructed and maintained by Tree Canada in response to this urgent need.”

“My motion – M-68 – proposes a federal leadership strategy to preserve, protect, and promote urban forests for their life-giving value to Canadian communities”, added Mathyssen. “I am grateful for the assistance of Michael Rosen in developing this strategy, as well as my New Democrat Critic colleagues for their support.”

Text of M-68:

M-68 — September 15, 2016 — Ms. Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should create a Federal Urban Forest Strategy, with the objectives of: (a) affirming the leadership role of the government in urban forest knowledge, urban forest management, and urban forest protection; (b) promoting the importance of the environmental, social and economic roles of Canada’s urban forests; (c) sustaining and enhancing urban forest canopy cover to safeguard human and environmental health; (d) advancing national societal knowledge of the urgent issues facing urban forests, including (i) invasive species, (ii) climate change, (iii) urbanization; (e) encouraging innovative, world-class approaches to urban forest management and planning; and (f) ensuring that federal involvement in managing urban forests is a collaborative endeavour between all levels of government, including indigenous peoples, and that it also includes the involvement of (i) the private sector, (ii) property owners, (iii) nongovernmental organizations.