New software reveals what urban trees do for our cities.
At a suburban house outside Toronto, armed with assorted gadgets for measuring trees, I politely ask the homeowner whether I can assess the vegetation in part of his backyard. “My tax dollars put to good use,” he says sarcastically.
I’m working on a project to evaluate the state of the urban forest throughout the Greater Toronto Area, I explain, but attempting to ease his skepticism is futile. Thankfully, as my partner and I follow aerial maps to chase down plots throughout Brampton, Ont., another team is roaming the streets of Toronto, collecting data from over 400 random samples.
Ontario’s government has an ambitious plan to reforest the most populated part of Canada. First, it must grapple with libertarian landowners and fragmented landscapes — and the fact that it got out of the business of planting trees.
Along the back roads of eastern Ontario, among the sleepy towns, antique shops and touristy locks that squeeze the Rideau River south of Ottawa, “Back Off Government” signs pepper a mixed countryside of cattle farms and small woodlands. Landowner pride runs strong here, although many traditional farms have given way to properties bought up by transplanted urbanites escaping the city and relishing the natural scenery.
Evangelical Christians have started to hear a new sermon from the pulpit: conservation. Not everyone within the church is happy about it.
Pastor John Bouwers is swaying with his eyes closed and hands raised to heaven. He’s leading Sunday morning prayer at the Meadowlands Fellowship, a Christian Reformed church in Ancaster, Ontario. Today’s sermon is about humility, the importance of a close-knit and caring Christian community, and building bridges outside that community.