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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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."