LightRocket via Getty Images
As we celebrate National Tree Day, it's clear we need to take a more strategic approach to maintaining and improving our urban forests.
June 7 was Clean Air Day. Part of Canadian Environment Week, this special day aims to drive awareness about air quality. The negative impacts of air pollution on our health are now well-known. In fact, tens of thousands of Canadians suffer from respiratory problems related to and worsened by air pollution.
Michele Falzone via Getty Images
Canada is rich in forest habitats, with many unique forests in each province. More than half of our country is covered in forests, and Canada is home to almost 10 per cent of the world's forests. We've chosen ten of our forest properties that are publicly accessible for you to explore.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of the most widely read children's books of all time. It follows the evolving relationship of a boy and a tree through their lives. Many interpret the tree as Mother Nature and the boy as humanity demonstrating how society has a tendency to exploit its natural resources.
Putting a price tag on nature is challenging. Some people don't believe it can be done. Some people hate the idea of it. Most will have no idea what it means. But there are new and emerging approaches to help us put a price on the services that forests, wetlands and grasslands provide to Canadians.
Andrea Kamal via Getty Images
More common than a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" shirt on St. Patrick's Day, the colour green is all around us. Whether it's the leaves in the trees, on your plate or the scarf of someone sitting across from you on public transit, it's hard to go a day without seeing green.
KenCanning via Getty Images
The hills are indeed alive! Ground-breaking research into trees and plants is revealing that they are much more complex and intelligent than we originally thought. Trees and plants can talk to each other, see, share food and even go to war.
If you fly over a forest and look down, you'll see every green tree and plant reaching to the heavens to absorb the ultimate energy source: sunlight. What a contrast when you look down on a city or town with its naked roofs, asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks, all ignoring the sun's beneficence! Research shows we might benefit by thinking more like a forest.
You have probably bought forest products like lumber for a home reno or notepaper for school supplies and wondered how your purchase affects the forest it came from. You may feel guilty, but you shouldn't if the forest products you buy are harvested sustainably and certified to internationally recognized standards.
John Lund via Getty Images
A forest is an intricately linked ecosystem and Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia's Department, goes one step further. She says forests represent an intelligence that is able to behave as though it's a single organism.
You find yourself breathing more deeply, taking in the sharp scent of pine and the sweet mustiness of leaves returning to dust on the forest floor beneath your feet. For a moment, the quiet is broken only by birdsong -- the notes that signalled the absence of predators nearby to generations of your ancestors -- and your pulse rate slows. Some neglected part of you is home, and you realize you've left your worries somewhere between your front door and this moment. This is the power of nature.
impr2003 via Getty Images
The forest functions better as a community. Older trees look after young ones, groups of trees will try to rejuvenate stumps, and predators are repelled by the release of toxins and electrical signals to other trees through the forest network of fungi that they are near.
Ippei Naoi via Getty Images
Stretching from Alaska to Labrador, the Boreal has more intact forest than the Amazon and nearly twice as much carbon in storage as tropical forests. It is a crowning jewel at the top of the globe. Preserving it now will make bird species more resilient as they face climate change and habitat loss along their migration routes south.
Johner Images via Getty Images
On June 6, much of the world will be celebrating World Environment Day, the annual United Nations day to raise awareness and action for the environment. As the UN puts it, World Environment Day is an "opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change."
wwing via Getty Images
You're already familiar with Abba, Swedish meatballs and Scandinavian design...Turns out Sweden has a lot more to offer and is particularly appealing to families or those who crave the unusual!
shaunl via Getty Images
"Relax, it's Qualicum!" I heard this many times during my visit to this small Vancouver Island community, whose population of 8,900 swells to 16,000 in the summer. They boast the dubious honour of having the highest median age of any city in Canada. But if you think that means this is a sleepy, tea-room filled community, think again.
Maskot via Getty Images
Fires are a natural part of many boreal forest ecosystems, but the massive blaze raging in Alberta is a catastrophe that threatens human health, the economy and the environment. This current episode in the Fort McMurray area is remarkable in its size, extent and human impact. Data from the Global Forest Watch platform provide context on what's going on with Alberta's forest fires
BAY ISMOYO via Getty Images
Microbes in the air and soils of natural environments can be unique. Microbial differences on the skin of those living in close proximity to more diverse vegetation may directly influence immune function throughout the body and may even influence mood.
The world needs the leaders to agree to a shared vision, matched by commitments, so that all of us -- the industry, governments, civil society and consumers -- can work together to halt and reverse the demise of the world's precious forests. We cannot stand by idly hoping to reverse recent devastation.
Anna Sirotina via Getty Images
Under no net loss, the loss of one acre of habitat displaced by development is replaced with one acre of the same habitat. In theory, we should end up with the same features and functions as we had before, and have no loss. Unfortunately, no net loss rarely works this way.
llvllagic via Getty Images
Without the forest and the economic activity it generates, the North Shore, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and all the other forest regions of Quebec would not have experienced the same level of economic development that has benefited all Quebecers. However, forestry activity could fall sharply in the fairly near future.
Canada's federal power shift provides us with the opportunity to view the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals through a new lens. Our new government faces many challenges to restore the protection of Canadian ecosystems. After a decade of Conservative rule, I find myself, like many other Indigenous people in Canada, cautiously optimistic for the future social and ecological well-being of our nation and its role on the international stage. However, our new government will face significant challenges in living up to and improving upon their campaign promises.
It's often said that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. But what about the grandparents of the natural world? Old-growth forests come to mind. They are structurally and ecologically diverse and often remain very stable for centuries, feature multi-layered canopies with various tree species at different stages of their life cycle.
Dan Kraus/NCC staff
Companies in a variety of sectors are not letting potential challenges hinder their efforts to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain, however. Rather than allowing potential roadblocks to hamper sustainability efforts, corporations are harnessing technological innovations to achieve environmental and business objectives.
When I discovered the German word Waldensemkite -- the feeling of peace that one gets when being alone in the woods -- it made me wonder how real are these experiences? Did this invisible forest mist have an impact on me? As a scientist, I relish the experiment. So for one week, I would spend at least five minutes maximizing the human/tree interface, i.e. tree hugging.
The great boreal forest straddles the country and provinces from Nova Scotia to British Columbia have ample forestry resources. In a place like Canada biomass to energy can make a lot of sense. So we headed to the largest, closest biomass operation we could find -- the Alberta Pacific Forest Industries (ALPAC) pulp mill.
What could we do in Canada to protect our mountain forests from detrimental land use changes, increase their cultural value and slowly lessen some dependence on agricultural land? Could Scandinavian Mountain Cattle find free-range forest homes in some of Canada's mountains?
Ron Bambridge via Getty Images
The New York Declaration on Forests represents an unprecedented effort by developed and developing countries to partner around a shared goal of ending global forest loss and committing to a concrete timeline to realize their goal to accomplish this goal.
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Environmentalists paint a dire picture of our forests, whereas in fact, as my colleagues Jasmin Guénette and Pierre Desrochers recently demonstrated, they're actually doing rather well.
BAY ISMOYO via Getty Images
There are a group of people often overlooked in the fight against climate change and they can be one of our greatest allies as we figure out how to limit the damage from extreme weather, rising seas and threats to food security. They are the millions of indigenous people who live in the world's remaining forests. Often overlooked, ignored, marginalized and attacked, they stand at the heart of a global solution on climate change that all of us, whether we live in big cities or remote villages, can benefit from.
To further underscore the risks: Indonesia's forests contain 10 per cent of the world's plants, 12 per cent of the world's mammals, 16 per cent of the world's reptile-amphibians, and 17 per cent of the world's bird species. Massive clearance of forests, particularly primary forests, leads to extinctions, floods, reduced river flows, as well as huge fires.
Selling carbon offsets is an important funding mechanism for progressive organizations such as NCC and provides critical funds to steward existing properties and conduct future conservation activities. It allows companies to demonstrate the importance of climate change mitigation in their corporate missions.